By Johannes P.
Overlooked in the recent furore surrounding the events in Ferguson, Missouri is the shooting of Jeremey Lake by Shannon Kepler, which took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on August 7, 2014. Shannon Kepler is a 24-year veteran with the Tulsa Police Department, but he wasn’t on duty when the shooting took place. A week prior, he had evicted his 18-year-old daughter, Lisa—whom he had adopted at age 6—from their home, apparently in an effort to give her a “dose of reality” to “get her back on track.” This ‘tough love’ strategy of dropping Lisa off at the Tulsa Day Center for the homeless did not quite end up the way he and his wife hoped . . .
While at the shelter, Lisa met 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. The two hit it off and Lisa was subsequently invited to stay with Lake who was living at his Aunt’s house. A week later, Officer Kepler saddled up his black Chevy Suburban and went looking for his daughter (possibly being tipped off by a Facebook update as to her new relationship,) and found her walking down the street with her new beau.
Since Officer Kepler decided to STFU afterward, we only have the word of the investigating police officers and his estranged daughter as to what happened. It doesn’t put him in a good light, as stated in an article in the International Business Times.
Lisa walked up to the vehicle when she saw that it was her father’s SUV, police told KWTV. She said he began yelling at her and then shot Lake as he walked up to introduce himself as her boyfriend. Lake was shot “two or three” times, an arrest report details. “I walked away and Jeremy tried to introduce himself, and my dad shot him,” Lisa told KJRH-TV.
Lisa Kepler added that she tried to keep her father from shooting Lake. But she says she was forced to run behind a bush in the home’s front yard when her father attempted to shoot her, too, as she tried to intervene…. [P]olice confirmed that “the suspect shot at the female but missed.”
Shannon also shot at Lake’s 13-year-old brother, who was sitting on the home’s front porch….
Officer Kepler was charged with first-degree murder, to which he pleaded not guilty at the arraignment. In a statement to the press, his attorney, Richard O’Carroll, stated that Kepler had a “viable defense” for the shooting, although the particulars of this defense “would have to come out in court during the preliminary hearing.”
“There’s a defense — it’s a perfect defense,” O’Carroll said. “For the district attorney and the chief of police not to understand that, and to just get caught up in this frenzy and make political decisions instead of reasoned judgment, is abhorrent.”
O’Carroll also implicitly disparaged Lisa’s credibility, arguing that the state’s witnesses in this case were “not credible”.
Kepler wasn’t the only individual charged in this matter; his wife, Gina Kepler—coincidentally also an officer with the Tulsa Police Department—was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
I’m the father of a daughter himself, and while she is (hopefully) many, many years from dating, I’ve lately been perusing shotguns like this one—only partly for my new interest sporting clays—and in evaluating this case, we must always remember that the Keplers are both innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Still, the facts so far available make this sound like an angry father and police officer who couldn’t handle the fact that he’d lost control of his daughter, and that would not make this a ‘good shoot’ by any stretch of the imagination.
While Lisa Kepler no doubt had troubles of her own given her estrangement from her adoptive father, and Jeremey Lake was not exactly on the fast-track to success, either (Lake is described in one news report as a “transient” who was “planning on turning his life around” by studying for the GED and enrolling in a local welding school,) the facts so far available do not paint Mr. and Mrs. Kepler in a favorable light.
The keen-eyed will note that so far this article has not mentioned the ethnicity of anyone involved. This was mainly because it isn’t immediately apparent that race played a direct role. Notwithstanding the fact that one writer has cast this as a case of a white man shooting a black teenager, Lake’s ethnicity appears to be, at least, mixed as his mother does not appear to be of African heritage (unless, perhaps, she traces her roots back to the European settlers in places such as the Transvaal, or Southern Rhodesia.) That said, it’s a sad truth that the caricature of a white father coming after a black man for committing the crime of dating his daughter is based in fact in many parts of this country. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in the wake of the increased interest in topics such as police abuse of power and racism after recent events in Ferguson.