Evidence room breach at Tulsa County Sheriff's Office under investigation

Tulsa World, NewsOK, newsok.com

Tulsa County, OK

In this July 13 photo, Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz listens to proceedings of a county commissioners meeting in Tulsa. [AP Photo]

A breach of security in an evidence surplus room that contained the synthetic drug K2 is the latest in a line of problems plaguing the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

Spokesman Justin Green on Monday confirmed that the breach took place and that a joint investigation between the Sheriff’s Office and the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office is underway.

Green said it was his understanding that a jail inmate worker committed the breach.

General Counsel Meredith Baker said the breach involved K2 but that the drug wasn’t smoked.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler couldn’t comment on the degree of the breach. However, he said he was briefed by Undersheriff Rick Weigel, who told him one criminal case was affected.

“Any time there is a concern about the integrity of evidence, that’s an important consideration for my office,” the prosecutor said.

The Sheriff’s Office has been under a firestorm of controversy since April 2, when former Reserve Deputy Robert Bates fatally shot Eric Harris during an undercover gun deal. Bates, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, has said he mistook his revolver for a Taser when he pulled the trigger.

In the weeks after that, a 2009 Sheriff’s Office internal investigation was leaked to media. The report contained allegations of falsified records, intimidation of subordinates and special treatment favoring Bates.

The report’s surfacing eventually prompted the launch of a probe by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which was announced in early June.

Additionally, the group We the People Oklahoma circulated a petition in an effort to oust Sheriff Stanley Glanz from office. That petition led to the impaneling of a grand jury to investigate the Sheriff’s Office. The grand jury began interviewing witnesses in early August.

Kunzweiler said his office was alerted to the evidence-room breach by the Sheriff’s Office late last week. He hopes to receive a formal report “as soon as possible.”

Green said the breach occurred in a property overflow room that is secured by a lock in the Faulkner Building, separate from the property room itself. He said the manner in which the breach occurred “has been taken care of” so that a similar breach can’t happen again.

Inmate workers are regularly at the Sheriff’s Office for cleaning or grounds work, Green said. He said he didn’t have further details about the breach, including when it occurred.

Kunzweiler said it’s premature to know whether any charges will be filed in connection with the breach, and he said he isn’t at liberty to comment further because of the open investigation.

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