MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 28, 2014

Police shooting called justifiable

DA says officer should be commended for ‘restraint’ in incident

By Anita Reding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Muskogee police officer is being commended for the “restraint used” in a shooting last month.

The shooting occurred during a traffic stop Jan. 2 near Fourth and Elgin streets.

Force used by Muskogee police officers in the incident was “reasonable under the circumstances, necessary to preserve human life and was justifiable,” a media release from the office of Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore states.

“Furthermore, it is also the finding of this office that Officer (Joseph) Poffel should be commended for the restraint used in not repeatedly shooting (Thomas) Estes under the circumstances,” the release also states.

Estes, 33,  was a passenger in the vehicle that was stopped by police, the release states.

Estes had valid warrants for his arrest, became combative and resisted arrest. During a struggle, Estes and Officers Poffel and Wesley Biles Jr. “went to the ground with Estes grabbing Officer Biles’ service gun and shooting it,” the release states. “Officer Poffel was able to pull his service gun and shoot Estes once in the abdomen area. After Estes was shot he continued to fight with both officers until he was finally subdued.”

Both officers were placed on routine administrative leave following the shooting. A date when they will return to active duty has not been announced.

“The Muskogee Police Department is pleased with today’s finding by District Attorney Larry Moore in regard to our recent officer involved shooting,” states a media release from Muskogee police. “We believe that our officers responded appropriately in accordance with our policy and procedure and with state law. We also believe that their actions were both justified and courageous in responding to the force used against them by the suspect.”

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was called to review the Jan. 2 shooting and report to the district attorney.

The district attorney’s office released its finding Monday after receiving written reports and video of the incident, the release states.

Marvin Cody Green, the driver of the vehicle that was stopped, and Estes gave statements that were consistent with Muskogee police officers.

Charges were not filed against Green, 22, of Muskogee regarding the traffic stop or shooting.

Estes was taken to a Tulsa hospital for treatment following the shooting.

He is being held in the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility on $250,000 bond and is charged with possession of a firearm after former felony conviction, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a police officer.

A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 31. At the conclusion of the hearing, a judge will determine whether Estes should stand trial.

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or areding@muskogeephoenix.com.