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Sheriff accused of making threat

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Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 11:20 pm

District 27 prosecutors are investigating allegations made against the Muskogee County sheriff stemming from events that took place July 4 at Lake Tenkiller.

Reports filed by park rangers indicate law enforcers representing three agencies responded to an incident at Pine Cove Marina. Park Ranger Blake Cox said the complaining witness, whose identity was redacted by state tourism officials, accused Sheriff Charles Pearson of making threats to “blow his (the witness’) head off.”

The complaining witness, according to Cox’ preliminary report, acknowledged there was no physical contact and Pearson never brandished a firearm. And while law enforcers interviewed a crying child who said “Charles was mad and throwing everyone down ... for no reason,” another witnesses described the event as “a big misunderstanding” that involved no threats.

Pearson described the incident as a family squabble that might have escalated as a result of his personal aggravation.

Cox, who along with an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper interviewed Pearson, stated the sheriff appeared “to be overserved” and “intoxicated,” but there is no indication any tests were administered to corroborate the observation. While Pearson was described as “cooperative and noncombative,” Cox said the sheriff “kept trying to change the topic of the field interview.”

Pearson said he was drinking “a little bit” that day but said he was not intoxicated when the squabble allegedly escalated to a verbal assault.

“It was just a family deal: I got aggravated, and so did they,” Pearson said, noting he was unarmed at the time of the quarrel. “I got aggravated and shouldn’t have acted the way I did — it was just an argument, and I’m sorry.”

First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp said he plans to follow up with park rangers and others who witnessed the events before he decides whether charges will be filed. Thorp, like Park Ranger Jim Sturges, characterized the incident as “he said, she said” situation and may not meet the threshold of a prosecutable offense.

“There are multiple versions of what occurred, but there appears to have been some type of altercation — I don’t think there was anything physical,” Thorp said after his first review of the preliminary reports. “There was a verbal altercation with an individual he (Pearson) knows, there is no indication Sheriff Pearson was armed at any time, but I want to follow up.”

In addition to the park rangers and OHP troopers, Sequoyah County deputies responded to the incident at Pine Cove Marina. According to the narrative filed by Sturges, the Sequoyah County sheriff “pulled his deputies from the scene,” saying “they weren’t getting involved.”

Capt. George Brown, an OHP spokesman, said the agency’s marine division conducted a “special emphasis” operation July 4 at Lake Tenkiller. He said Lake Patrol troopers reported no contact with Pearson that day. Two troopers responded to the incident at the marina, Brown said, but they generated no reports.

Cox filed his report July 9 after the complaining witness contacted Sturges to request a copy. Sturges completed his portion of the investigation July 11. Thorp, who was out of the office this week, said it is unknown when a prosecutorial decision will be made.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

 

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