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Indicted TPD officer's attorney: 'He did everything he was trained to do'

Posted at 9:53 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-05 01:12:18-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Police Officer Aaron Russell was formally indicted Friday for a misdemeanor in reckless handling of a firearm.

Officer Russell responded to a call about a suspicious person inside a car around 1:17 a.m. near East 28th Street and Pittsburg on March 21.

READ MORE: Tulsa Co. DA: Tulsa police officer indicted for shooting man in March

The interaction ended with Russell firing five rounds at a vehicle driven by 36-year-old Michael Delaney, striking him once in his upper left shoulder, according to Tulsa police.

Russell's defense attorney, Scott Wood, told 2 Works for You he was justified to discharge his weapon.

"I think he did everything he was trained to do," Wood said. "I can certainly understand Officer Russell's reasoning and why he shot, I think, in a very, very controlled manner."

Police body camera footage, shared exclusively with 2 Works for You, shows the entire exchange between Russell and Delaney.

Russell's attorney said the red flags are almost immediate.

"The suspect didn't want to roll the window all the way down," Wood said. "Didn't want to give a full complete name."

The video shows Russell scan the vehicle and eventually spot what he believed was the handle of a firearm in the center console. An investigation later identified it to be an air gun.

Russell is heard in the video alerting his fellow officer of a gun in the vehicle. He then tells Delaney to put his hands up and get out of the car.

"He was fully justified in believing that was a deadly weapon that could be used against him," Wood said.

Russell is shown reaching for Delaney who pulls away and speeds off in the vehicle. Russell is then seen firing at the vehicle.

Russell's attorney said the officer discharged his weapon because he thought his fellow officer was being ran over by the vehicle.

"Officer Russell shot in defense of his backer because the last known position he had on him was right there by the front left tire of the car," Wood said.

Video shows the other officer back away from the vehicle before it drives away. Wood calls it a "reasonable mistake" by Russell saying his focus was on Delaney.

According to court documents, Russell's bond was from $1,000 to a PR bond, meaning Russell's bond was waived and he agreed to appear at all court dates.

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