Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said Friday that Tulsa police and the union that represents them are using her husband’s involvement in the investigation of a possible domestic violence incident as another opportunity to smear his reputation and advance their agenda.
“It is just their MO, it’s how they operate, and that is my belief,” Hall-Harper said.
Hall-Harper’s husband is Tulsa Police Sgt. Marcus Harper. He was among the officers who responded to a 911 call on the evening of March 2 from the home of Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes, according to a police report obtained by the Tulsa World.
The call to police was made by a relative who said she’d found Holmes lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen with a knife in her leg. The report states that Sgt. Harper instructed the officer who wrote the report to title it “an accidental injury.”
But Sgt. Shane Tuell told the World on Thursday — and again Saturday — that officers are investigating the incident as a possible act of domestic violence. He did not comment on what prompted the change in classification, nor would he confirm that it was Harper who instructed that the incident be listed as an accidental injury.
Tuell also said he could not comment on any officer’s involvement in the case because the incident could be the subject of an internal investigation.
“We cannot specifically address the details of any internal investigation,” he said. “However, if we have an allegation of any misconduct by an officer we must look into that allegation to either prove or disprove the allegation.
“That is our responsibility to the officer, to the department and to the community.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 President Mark Secrist said the organization does not comment when the facts of a situation are still being gathered.
“However, an allegation has been made of possible improper action by a Tulsa Police supervisor that is also an FOP member,” Secrist said. “The FOP will work tirelessly to make sure all of our members receive due process and are treated fairly.
“The FOP works to ensure justice is served in every case involving one of our members.”
Hall-Harper said she is confident her husband has done nothing improper and that the incident is being used by police to discredit Harper because they don’t like that he supports the creation of an Office of the Independent Monitor.
Hall-Harper said police have used similar tactics in response to other incidents that could have potentially put officers in a bad light.
“That is their MO, that they try to take the focus off of them and their actions, and whether or not they complied with a policy or not, and put it back on the victim, saying, ‘OK, well, he was a bad guy, he deserved to have lost his life,’” she said.
Harper also accused police of being unhappy with Holmes because of her involvement in high-profile cases involving law enforcement. Holmes was the judge in murder trials of former Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler, who was tried four times before being convicted in the shooting death of his daughter’s boyfriend.
Some in the Police Department, as well defense attorneys, in those cases “wanted a white judge because they get more sympathy with a white judge in Tulsa County,” Hall-Harper said.
Mayor G.T. Bynum has proposed the creation of an OIM to review use-of-force incidents, improve outreach and recommend policies.
Harper, as president of the Black Officers Coalition, wrote a letter in support of the proposal and said many officers he has spoken to have also expressed support for it.
The FOP has threatened to sue the city if the OIM program is implemented without the union’s involvement.
Holmes remains hospitalized, Tuell said Saturday.
Police have since arrested the judge’s daughter, Adrienne Smith, 28, on an assault with a dangerous weapon complaint related to the incident, Tulsa County jail records show.
Holmes was sworn in as a district judge in 2015 and is the first black woman to be elected to the position. She won re-election in November.
The Tulsa World generally does not identify reported victims of domestic violence but did so in this case because the allegation involves an elected official who is also regularly in the public eye.