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Tulsa police, mayor respond to criticism of officers' conduct during mental health call

A still image taken from police body camera video of the arrest of LaDonna Paris. (TPD)
A still image taken from police body camera video of the arrest of LaDonna Paris. (TPD)
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Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin are responding to criticism of how officers handled a woman going through a mental health episode.

A video was posted online, with some folks taking issue with how officers treated the woman.

Police have since released full body cam videos of the arrest to the media.

Video shows officers responding to ReStore Tulsa on South Norwood Avenue to remove LaDonna Paris from a bathroom. It’s clear to officers Paris is having a mental breakdown and they try to call for the crisis response team but are told the unit is on another call.

The officers start off asking for Paris to come out peacefully, even calling someone she wished to speak with.

“They want you to leave, so I'm gonna need you to come out. OK?" said the officer.

“Who wants me to leave?" asked Paris.

“The property owners want you to leave. They say that you’re banned," the officer responded.

“Why am I banned? What have I done?" asked Paris.

“Because you won’t come out of the bathroom, they want you to leave," said the officer.

Officers appeared to become increasingly impatient with Paris, who had been in the bathroom for more than four hours.

During the video officers are seen banging on the door while laughing and clicking a stun gun on and off.

“It’s gonna be a bad time for you if you don’t open the door," said the one officer.

Tulsa police said this about the officer's behavior:

To be clear, the banter between the officers outside of the presence of the suspect can be received as unprofessional and has been addressed with the Officers. The overall actions of the Officers and the way in which the call was handled is within the policies of the Tulsa Police Department.

Dr. David Thomas, a 20-year police veteran and criminal justice professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, weighed in on the incident. NewsChannel 8 asked him if this should violate police policies in America.

“Sure, the taunting of the lady, the taunting, the rattling of the door, the charging of the taser, all of that, because that was nothing, police have been in this thing for the last two years where we talk about de-escalation, and that was the opposite,” he said. “It went over the top.”

Paris used an aerosol can and a lighter to try to spray fire at the door and officers.

Eventually, another officer arrived, and police busted down the door and arrested Paris.

While outside of the business, she was checked on by paramedics. Then, when she was being put in the police car, she resisted and kicked one of the officers.

Tulsa police say once she was in the car she didn't resist anymore.

The judge later dropped the charges for Paris.

Franklin issued the following statement:

The officer’s actions are under investigation but heavily edited video never tells the whole story. Five videos totaling more than 5hrs were made available to the media. Here is one which captures 1 1/2 hrs of the encounter.

Bynum sent the following statement to media Wednesday:

Tulsa Police leadership brought this video to my attention last month as part of their investigation. It is heartbreaking to see a fellow Tulsan suffering a mental health crisis in a video, and it is a reminder of the difficult situations officers deal with in the field every day. I am confident in the investigation conducted by the Tulsa Police Department.

The full Tulsa Police press release can be seen below.

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