Behind the scenes: 24 hours with the Tulsa homicide squad
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- “When the phone call comes in, I don’t ask who’s dead because it doesn’t matter. All I know is we have one dead and it’s time to go to work,” said Sgt. Dave Walker, with the TPD Homicide Unit.
He doesn’t plan on a phone call, but Walker knows always to expect one. Once again, someone’s been killed in Tulsa and his work day has just begun.
“You’ve just got to shake the cobwebs out,” said Walker. “We have a computer at home so you’ve got to start looking.”
Tulsa’s not the murder capitol of the country, but for a city our size the number of killings stands out. But so does the homicide unit’s track record for solving murders. They’re good at it and they get plenty of practice.
For Walker, each homicide is like a book, one that he and his team read backward. They know the ending, in this case, it’s Tyson Teague lying dead in the street.
The mystery -- how did it happen?
“It’s not water though,” said Walker, checking out engine fluid that started at the shooting scene and trailed down the street.
Real life cops tend not to be like the ones you see on TV, but Walker has the look of a guy who could play himself. Of all the homicide detectives in Tulsa, he’s the most familiar. Walker’s been on the beat for decades and on your local newscasts nearly as long. He’s a regular fixture, talking about high profile cases, including last year’s police shooting of Terence Crutcher.
He looked at it as a by-the-book interrogation of Officer Betty Shelby, but the Crutcher family and their supporters claimed Walker gave Shelby special treatment. Walker said he was following policy when he let Shelby watch the video of the shooting before the interview.
Crutcher’s family called for Walker’s resignation.
“Chief Jordan and Mayor Bynum, I’m calling for you right now to terminate Sgt. Dave Walker,” said Tiffany Crutcher, after Shelby was found not guilty last May.
Walker fired back, saying he knew the Crutcher family was hurting, but he was tired of the Tulsa Police Department getting kicked down the road.
Up until then, Walker had talked about retiring, but that all changed when critics tried, unsuccessfully, to push him out. Walker dug in, which is why you’ll still find him out there in the middle of the night on murder scenes, doing what he does best.
“It’s part of the reason why it’s getting close to time to go, you’re only getting two hours of sleep,” said Walker.
Five hours after Teague was killed, all the pieces detectives need are falling in to place, all they need is the suspect.
“We have two people we’re interviewing, two people that’s all?” asked Walker.
Living with death can take its toll, but Walker said it makes detectives like him value life that much more. They always remember, they’re here to make a difference.
“Everybody out here has to care a little bit, I’d venture to say they all care a lot,” said Walker.
On this night, less than 12 hours after the fatal shot that killed Tyson Teague, Raymond Rivera is brought in and charged with first-degree murder. Both the shooter and the victim clearly knew each other.
“This one’s in the books,” said Walker.
And so it goes, another case in a long line that never ends. Another stop on the murder beat that’s been Dave Walker’s life for so long.