Top officials of the Muskogee Police Department said they are investigating internally after officers allegedly broke down the door to an 84-year-old woman’s home and pepper-sprayed her while searching for a man who allegedly ran a stop sign.
Geneva Smith, 84, said she was pepper-sprayed by a female officer at about 2:45 a.m. Aug. 7 when police entered her home, searching for her son. Her son, Arthur Paul Blackmon, 56, allegedly ran a stop sign.
“I don’t know why they pepper-sprayed me,” Smith said. “I just came out and asked what was going on.”
The police department’s use of force policy states that an officer will only use force “which is objectively reasonable and necessary.” The policy, which indicates that force is used “to protect the public safety,” outlines the use of pepper spray for passive and defensive resistance.
“The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer ... and on whether the officer’s own reckless or deliberate conduct during the seizure unreasonably created the need to use such force,” the policy states.
Smith plans to take legal action against the department, she said.
Muskogee Police Chief Rex Eskridge said that with the possibility of litigation, the department declined to publicly comment. Eskridge said he would address the topic at a later time.
"Right now, we're in the process of doing an internal (investigation), and we have several issues we have to look at," Eskridge said.
Officer Michelle Casady states in her probable cause affidavit for Blackmon’s arrest that Blackmon ran a stop sign at Elgin and South Junction streets. Casady followed the vehicle to the 2400 block of Denver Street, where Smith lives. Smith said her son stays with her.
Officers instructed Blackmon “to get back into his vehicle and come to officers,” Casady states in her affidavit. Blackmon entered the residence and allegedly refused to exit the residence.
“Officers then heard someone several times yell call police,” Casady states in the affidavit. “Officers then kicked the door in and instructed Arthur (Blackmon) to show his hands and walk toward officers.”
Smith said that is about the time she woke up. She left her bedroom to investigate the ruckus. After that, she said, she was pepper-sprayed. Smith’s left eye is watering after nearly two weeks, she said.
“It feels like I have gravel in my eye,” Smith said.
Officers shot Blackmon with a stun gun, Casady states in her affidavit. Officers took both Blackmon and Smith into custody.
Prosecutors charged Blackmon with driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, obstructing an officer, driving with a suspended license, and carrying a weapon, according to court documents.
Smith was transported from the jail to an area hospital. After that, she was released from custody, she said.
“They don’t care,” Smith said. “When I came out of the hospital, they were laughing about it.”
While she was in custody, Smith said, her door was left off the frame.
Officers cited Smith with resisting an officer. City Attorney Matthew Beese dismissed the citation. Beese said he could not make a determination of whether the use of force was appropriate until the police department submits a report to his office.
Reach Harrison Grimwood at (918) 684-2926 or email@example.com.