A grand jury has indicted Blackwell, Oklahoma Police Lieutenant John Mitchell in the May 2019 homicide of a 34-year-old woman named Michael Ann Godsey. She had driven off from a traffic stop after firing a couple of shots. Eventually, she came to a stop and Mitchell fired dozens of rounds into the truck, killing her.
The police video shows Lt. Mitchell firing his first shots at Godsey in her pickup truck as she turned in a nearby intersection during the slow-speed chase. He fired repeatedly at the truck even though Godsey had not fired any shots since the before the pursuit or driven recklessly endangering officers or others.
Mitchell then got into his car and roared past at least two other units in the low-speed pursuit. Apparently eager to try some high-speed, low-drag tactical techniques, he began firing his police patrol rifle through the windshield of his squad car at the truck as they drove through the city, utterly indifferent to innocent bystanders downrange from his indiscriminate fire.
Then, when the woman finally stopped her truck, the lieutenant leaped out of his cruiser to further protect and serve the woman and the city’s residents. Even though there was no movement from the truck, and even though the woman was not pointing her gun at officers or firing or doing anything else.
Lt. Mitchell continued firing.
In fact, he fired upwards of 60 rounds from his AR at the truck as the other officers looked on.
As infomercials say, “But wait, there’s more!”
Once Lt. Blaster blew through two magazines, he threw his rifle onto the ground at the base of the sign and walked away from it. As he did so, he drew, then emptied his sidearm into the woman’s pickup truck.
Just to make sure.
Finally, someone with some sense yelled, “Cease fire!”
It took the State’s Attorney half a year to finally bring the case before a grand jury which issued a charge of murder against the woman.
From KFOR News…
KAY COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – On Thursday, Blackwell police officer Lt. John Mitchell was indicted by a grand jury for his role in a May officer-involved shooting.
Monday at his bond hearing a Kay County Judge set his bond at $10,000 but allowed Mitchell to be released on his own recognizance.
Mitchell was then processed at the Kay County Detention Center and able to go home. …
President of the Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police, Jason Smith, says Mitchell has his full support.
Does anyone really expect the Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police to break bad on a member, even if said member acted recklessly?
Put aside the unsafe manner in which the police supervisor cranked off rounds from a moving vehicle at another moving vehicle in an urban setting.
Police officers, by and large, are held to the same standard as civilians when it comes to the use of deadly force. Deadly force is justified only when faced with the immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to the innocent.
Specifically, ability, opportunity and jeopardy must all be present.
Did Ms. Godsey have the ability to inflict grave bodily harm? Of course. She had a gun.
Did she have the opportunity to inflict grave bodily harm? At the initial traffic stop, certainly. While driving relatively safely without waving the gun around or pointing it at other motorists or police? Not so much.
Were the officers in jeopardy? Certainly during the initial stop, absolutely. But during the pursuit, the truck drove at normal traffic speeds in a safe manner at 3:00 a.m.
Would a reasonable and prudent person believe she posed an imminent threat to officers or members of the community? Possibly, given the earlier reports of shots fired from the same pickup truck. The truck itself could be used as a weapon.
Then, a short while later when the truck stopped and no movement was detected, were the officers still in imminent jeopardy? Possibly to some degree.
But for an officer to fire dozens of rounds at the vehicle where the suspect is neither visible nor offering resistance? Does that pass the reasonable person doctrine? Otherwise known as “What would a reasonable and prudent person have done in the same situation knowing what the defendant knows.”
What about the people living downrange of Lt. Mitchell’s orgy of gunfire? It’s a miracle other innocents were not killed or wounded throughout the town. Not to mention the thousands of dollars in property damage incurred by the trigger-happy police supervisor.
Applying the basic elements of justifiable use of deadly force to this case, one sees that Mitchell’s use of force appears probably flawed at best.
Mitchell had better hire himself the best attorney money can buy, because to this supporter of law enforcement, he stepped way out of line in his reckless use of deadly force.
Ultimately a jury will hear the evidence and see the video to make a determination of guilt. Assuming Lt. Mitchell doesn’t cop to a plea first.