Legal woes to follow Oklahoma sheriff after resignation
Oct. 10, 2015
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — When embattled Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz leaves office next month after a 50-year career in law enforcement, any notions of enjoying retirement and his roughly $68,000 annual pension will be fleeting at best.
The 73-year-old was indicted by a grand jury last month on two misdemeanor counts. The first accuses him of refusing to release an internal 2009 report that criticized the lack of training and workplace behavior of his longtime friend, reserve deputy Robert Bates, who fatally shot an unarmed man in April in a Tulsa street. Bates, a former insurance executive who goes to trial in February on second-degree manslaughter charges, has said he mistook his handgun for his stun gun when he shot Eric Harris.
The second count accuses Glanz of willful violation of the law in an unrelated incident involving a stipend he received for a vehicle. There's also a pending investigation into the shooting of Eric Harris by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
But that's not all: Glanz is named in at least 10 state and federal lawsuits alleging employment discrimination, civil rights violations and squalid conditions in the jail he was charged with running. He is leaving office Nov. 1, days before a hearing on the grand jury indictments.
By most accounts, Glanz earned a reputation as a sharp detective while a Tulsa police officer who cracked several high-profile cases.
"I don't think he was considered a polarizing figure," sheriff's office spokesman Terry Simonson said. "Rather, he was an innovator, leader, and is considered a national leader in the law enforcement community."
Yet, Glanz's legacy from his 27 years as sheriff is yet to be determined. He did not return a phone message left with an office spokesman seeking comment for this story.
"In particular, there is a pattern of Sheriff Glanz's lack of supervision, insufficient training of subordinates and the concealment or falsification of records," said Dan Smolen, the Harris family attorney who released the internal 2009 memo critical of Bates' training. Glanz's office repeatedly denied the memo's existence.
One of the lawsuits filed on behalf of Eric Harris faults Glanz for failing to ensure Bates was properly trained.
"In sum, it is our view that the same failures in leadership that ultimately led to Sheriff Glanz's resignation have been evident for years in TCSO's management of the jail, operations on the streets of Tulsa and dealings with political and financial patrons," Smolen said.
Marq Lewis, a civil rights organizer who helped collect thousands of signatures to empanel the grand jury, said many citizens were surprised at what he called the "deeper-rooted corruption" in the agency as the investigation's findings came to light — including Glanz's and Bates' cozy relationship, which included donations of cash and vehicles.
"It seemed the sheriff had taken a complete hands-off approach," Lewis said.
Glanz tried to have the courts block the grand jury, arguing that the petition drive didn't comply with certain state laws and alleged signees were misled because they didn't see the full 33-page summary of specific allegations, but he lost all legal challenges.
An internal audit of the sheriff's office found outdated or deficient files in more than half of the ranks of the volunteer reserve program, which Bates was a part of; the program has been suspended. The sheriff's office also recently withdrew from a national law enforcement accrediting agency.
Lewis said he envisions a future with a compliant and publicly transparent sheriff's office, but concedes "that is going to take many years."
Bill Adams, a former corporal at the sheriff's office who testified before the grand jury and gave documents to prosecutors to aid their investigation, predicted the fallout will continue.
"There are other things that (Glanz) and his cabal have done which are being investigated," Adams said. "This is not over by a long shot."