Local & Regional

Tuesday's top stories:

  • Clergy of various faiths led a march on City Hall to demand and pray for an end to police violence.
  • The Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission lent its support to Black Tulsans.
  • Tulsa County's cases of COVID-19 are trending upwards, with the highest seven-day average of new cases since the beginning of April.

KWGS News

A former sergeant at the Tulsa County Jail has been arrested on charges of first-degree manslaughter.

A Tulsa Police Department spokesperson said Christopher Straight, 53, of Sapulpa, was working as a security guard at the Knight's Inn at S. Garnett and Route 66 when he instigated an altercation with Carlos Carson, 36, on June 6th. Straight allegedly pepper sprayed Carson before shooting him to death. Straight is white; Carson was Black.

PickPik

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The federal government approved new gambling compacts between Oklahoma and two tribal nations, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Monday, but the governor still remains locked in a legal dispute over tribal gambling with other tribes and legislative leaders from his own party.

The compacts between Oklahoma and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation were both “deemed approved” by the U.S. Department of the Interior following the expiration of a 45-day review period.

Tulsa Youth Rowing Association

Tulsa Public Schools and Tulsa Youth Rowing Association missed out on a grant last year to help bring the sport to more kids.

This year, they got it.

Through its ErgEd grant, USRowing and the George Pocock Foundation will pay for 20 rowing machines — or ergometers — worth around $1,000 apiece and bring in experts to train physical education teachers on using them.

Chris Polansky / KWGS

A commission serving as a liaison between Tulsa city and county governments and the Hispanic community has given its formal support to work to address racial injustice in policing.

The Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission sent a letter to the Greater Tulsa Area African American Affairs Commission pledging its support in the fight against police brutality inflicted on black Americans.

Landlords have a clear upper hand in the more than 1,000 evictions filed each month in the Tulsa County court.

A review by law students in TU’s Terry West Civil Legal Clinic of nearly 1,400 January cases found 82% of landlords have an attorney, while 3.5% of tenants do, even with attorneys from legal service nonprofits generally available at court.

Updated June 9, 11:45 a.m. to include a statement from District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas. 

In response to a request from the district attorney for Logan and Payne Counties, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board said Monday it has no authority to disqualify members from hearing cases over potential conflicts of interest.

Executive Director Steven Bickley said DA Laura Austin Thomas made a blanket request based on Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle’s previous work with organizations that help inmates transition to life outside of prison.

Chris Polansky / KWGS

An assemblage of faith communities met at the Greenwood Cultural Center on Monday morning for a rally and march to Tulsa City Hall to demand an end to police violence, the latest such event following the brutal, caught-on-camera killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

A crowd of an estimated 200 people carried signs in support of Black Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement, and were joined and led in prayer and song by leaders of Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, AME, and other Christian denominations. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated June 8, 7:15 p.m. The health department reported one death Monday, not zero deaths. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 55 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 7,205.

One new death was reported Monday, a Tulsa County woman 65 or older who died Friday. Since March 18, 348 people have died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Monday's top stories:

  • Amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by Minneapolis police, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum told a national news magazine program that the 2016 police killing of Terence Crutcher, also an unarmed Black man, by Tulsa police was not race-related.
  • Hundreds took to the streets in Broken Arrow to support the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrate against police brutality and racism.
  • Oklahoma has increased to 7,150 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 348 known deaths.

With near-daily protests against police brutality and racism continuing across the country, the state, and the Tulsa area, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum made clear to a national news outlet that he does not believe the 2016 killing of Terence Crutcher by the Tulsa Police Department was related to Crutcher being Black.

"A lot of people saw what happened to Terence Crutcher, and they said, 'This wouldn't have happened if he was a white man,'" reporter Kelefa Sanneh said to Bynum on a CBS Sunday Morning segment. "Do you think that's true?"

"No, I don't," Bynum responded. 

Pxfuel

Oklahoma’s top elections official says misinformation is likely the biggest threat to the state’s elections in 2020, ahead of cyber threats and physical tampering.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said misinformation can include false information about election laws and procedures, like claims different parties will be voting on different days.

File photo

The Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission has set emergency rules governing curbside and delivery sales of beer, wine and spirits.

ABLE Commission Deputy Director Steven Barker said regulations needed to be put into place with those methods being made permanent last month.

"Obviously, we did allow that temporarily as the pandemic was rearing its ugly head in April. Now it’s important, I think, for the commission to establish some more permanent rules as far as how to do this and how to do it safely," Barker said.

Tulsa PAC

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a financial strain on arts organizations, including Tulsa’s Performing Arts Center.

The PAC management team projects they’ll be down about $1 million, largely the result of touring Broadway shows being postponed until at least 2021.

"You’re talking five big Broadway shows that are being moved off the calendar the remainder of 2020, and then you’ve got another four or five headliner acts that had to be moved," said CEO Mark Frie.

Courtesy

Hundreds of people came to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Broken Arrow on Saturday.

The crowd gathered at Central Park before marching down Main Street, the Tulsa World reported.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported another 147 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths over the weekend.

The state now has 7,150 total cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus, and 348 people have died. The seven-day average of new cases has climbed from 65.4 just over a week ago to 92 as of Sunday, according to Oklahoma Watch.

MUSTANG, Okla. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fatal police shooting in suburban Oklahoma City.

Officers from the Mustang police department found an individual who had been suspected of driving under the influence at a parking lot Friday evening, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Police said 42-year-old Benjamin Ballard of Yukon was fatally shot after he “presented a firearm.” Ballard died at the scene and a firearm was found in the parking lot, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A 5-year-old boy drowned in a Tulsa apartment pool Sunday after apparently sneaking out with another child while their parents were sleeping, authorities said.

It was at least the second child drowning in Okahoma over the weekend. A 9-year-old also died in a separate drowning Saturday night in Lake Eufaula, Tulsa television station KTUL reported. The boy, who was from Broken Arrow, was sitting on a swim platform when he stood up and fell into the water, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

File Photo

Oklahoma State has become the first school to be punished by the NCAA in the fallout from the federal corruption investigation into college basketball. The school plans to fight — and likely won’t be the only one.

The Cowboys’ men’s basketball team was banned from the upcoming postseason among numerous penalties handed down Friday by an NCAA infractions committee panel, which found that former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepted up to $22,000 in bribes intended to help steer athletes to certain financial advisers.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — One man was killed and another critically wounded in a suspected homicide-attempted suicide Friday at an Oklahoma shooting range, police said.

Local news outlets quote police as saying both men arrived together at the 2A Shooting Center and were shooting from separate lanes when one turned and shot the other multiple times before shooting himself. The victim died at a Tulsa hospital, while the suspect was listed in critical condition.

No motive has been determined, but investigators were reviewing surveillance video.

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Republican legislative leaders asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to settle whether Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached deals with two Native American tribes to allow sports gambling.

That was Attorney General Mike Hunter’s conclusion in a formal opinion and letter to the U.S. Interior secretary last month.

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — A member of a far-right group attended a George Floyd rally in Stillwater armed with a rifle and dressed in tactical gear, which authorities say was legal but inappropriate.

Christopher Autrey, who says he’s a member of the Three Percenters, said he was at the rally Wednesday outside of the police department to prevent protesters from looting local businesses.

Under Oklahoma law, people can openly display and carry loaded weapons in public.

Courtesy

Cherokee Nation has started reopening its casinos and aims to have Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa open by the end of next week.

The tribe closed its 10 northeastern Oklahoma casinos March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Properties in Tahlequah, Fort Gibson and Sallisaw reopened this week.

"As we entered phase three for Oklahoma and Tulsa this week, the trends seemed to indicate that it would be safe for us to open on a very strategic basis," said Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported it has cleared 71% of the backlogged claims in place when its new leader took over a week ago.

OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said that equates to 180,000 weeks of claims that have been paid out. 

"Which is kind of a weird way to say it, right? But what that means is there was people that were waiting on eight weeks, 10 weeks, you know, multiple weeks of pay, and we processed all of those at the same time so that we could get them those funds that they so desperately need," Zumwalt said.

Black Wall Street Times

Members of the Tulsa legal community will offer their time and knowledge to help protesters and protest organizers understand their rights.

Attorney Laurie Phillips said there are a lot of misconceptions about what First Amendment rights do or don’t cover, and their goal is to make those protections clearer in meetings with organizers and webinars.

For example, the First Amendment does not cover protests on private property or highways.

Courtesy

It will take a little bit longer for work to begin on a three-phase, nearly $76 million project slated for the 36th Street North corridor.

The Tulsa Development Authority approved an updated terms sheet with developer Alfresco Group LLC that will move the start of construction back from Oct. 1, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2021, with completion pushed back a month to July 1, 2022.

The other two phases of the total 500-acre entertainment, retail and residential project will also be delayed.

Friday's top stories:

  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continued through May, Oklahoma's gross receipts dropped 14% from the same month a year earlier.
  • A group of protesters held peaceful demonstrations outside Tulsa Police division headquarters.
  • A $76 million entertainment, retail and residential development in north Tulsa will be delayed a few months. 

Hannah Phillips

A group of protesters continued peaceful demonstrations against racial injustice Thursday night at Tulsa police headquarters.

Oklahoma State Treasurer

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued through May, Oklahoma’s gross receipts dropped 14% from the same month a year ago, a more than $150 million decline.

Deputy Treasurer for Communications Tim Allen said the only month with a steeper decrease from the prior year he can recall is April, when gross receipts were down 30% from 2019.

"But that was exaggerated in April because the individual income tax payment deadline was moved from April 15 to July 15," Allen said.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 102 new coronavirus infections and three additional deaths from COVID-19.

A total of 6,907 Oklahomans have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and 344 are known to have died from the illness it causes.

Two of the deaths reported Thursday happened in Tulsa County: a woman 65 or older and a woman between 36 and 49 years old. COVID-19 has officially killed 59 Tulsa County residents, the second-highest total in the state behind 63 in Oklahoma County.

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