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Pryor police share video showing gunpoint arrest of barefoot, apparently intoxicated man

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A screenshot from a video from Pryor Creek Police Department on Aug. 29, 2022

The Pryor Creek Police Department posted to Facebook on Tuesday video footage of a controversial arrest after a bystander captured it on his phone and shared it to social media.

According to a press release, on Monday night Pryor police responded to three 911 calls about a drunk driver. Two callers said a man driving a white Toyota SUV on public streets was unconscious or barely conscious, according to PCPD.

When an officer met the suspect identified as 37-year-old Charles Burrow, Burrow was in his parked SUV at the Okie Dokie gas station on Graham Avenue in Pryor where, according to a 911 caller quoted by PCPD, Burrow went to sleep.

A man named Parker Jones in a nearby vehicle took a video of the subsequent interaction between Burrow and the PCPD officer. Jones shared the video to Facebook. To date, it has 669 shares.

Jones wrote to Public Radio Tulsa on Wednesday evening he doesn’t have a lot to say, but that he believes the incident was handled unprofessionally and that “we should all strive to do better in the community.”

In Jones’ video, Jones and his companions say they recognize Burrow but can’t remember his name before expressing surprise when the officer unholsters his weapon and points it at Burrow’s head.

In the officer’s body cam footage posted by Pryor police, when the officer, who identifies himself as Phillips in the footage, first approaches Burrow’s SUV, he tells Burrow to show his hands. Burrow responds by lifting his hands slightly with his face turned away.

Phillips then tries to open the SUV’s door. Burrow refuses and closes the door, but opens it again himself by reaching through the window to use the outside handle. That’s when Phillips backs up, points his gun at Burrow’s head, and orders him to show his hands or get shot “in the [expletive] face.”

“Do you want to get shot in the face? ‘Cause I’m fixin’ to,” Phillips says.

“You want to go there?” Burrow asks as he gets out of the vehicle with his hands up.

“Yeah, let’s go there,” Phillips says before he holsters his weapon and shoves Burrow, who is barefoot, against the SUV and to the ground.

As the officer is handcuffing Burrow on the pavement, Phillips says, "We're going there."

After Burrow is handcuffed, Phillips turns him on his side and asks him his name. Burrow, who has been groaning and spitting, doesn’t respond until Phillips props him up against the SUV.

“Quit kicking me,” says Burrow.

“I’m trying to separate your feet so you’re comfortable,” says Phillips. “You ain’t gonna come at me like that, I promise.”

Phillips then asks Burrow for identification. Burrow replies it’s in the console of his SUV before expressing distress. “Well,” Phillips says, as the body cam video ends.

Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Pryor Police Chief Dennis Nichols said the entire name of the officer hasn’t been released and neither have the 911 calls.

According to the Mayes County Sheriff, Burrow was released from jail Tuesday.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.