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

Aaron Russell
Posted at 9:32 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 22:26:28-04

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa police officer's indictment was delivered to the Tulsa District Attorney's Office on Friday for formal filing.

On Thursday, Oklahoma's Multi-County Grand Jury indicted TPD Officer Aaron Russell for a misdemeanor in reckless handling of a firearm from shooting back in March, according to the Office of the Tulsa County District.

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

On March 21, Officer Aaron Russell responded to a call about a suspicious person inside a car around 1:17 a.m near East 28th Street and Pittsburg in midtown Tulsa.

Russell conversed with Michael Delaney inside the car, and then noticed a pistol behind the center console, according to the Tulsa Police Department. Russell told other officers on the scene that he saw a gun and then commanded Delaney to exit the car.

Delaney ignored the commands and refused to exit, Tulsa police said. Russell opened the driver's door and tried to pull Delaney out of the car. Delaney then started driving away with Russell still leaning in the car.

As Delaney drove away, Russell fired multiple rounds, hitting him once in his upper left shoulder, according to Tulsa police. Delaney left his car several blocks away, and K9 officers found him hiding under a house.

Delaney was taken to the Tulsa County Jail on complaints of eluding police, reckless driving and driving without a license. He was then transported to the Union City Corrections Center in Union City, Oklahoma on Aug. 13, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website. Court records show he was previously arrested for possession of firearm (after former conviction of a felony), assault with a deadly weapon, one felony warrant and three misdemeanor warrants.

After the Tulsa Police Homicide Unit reviewed the in-car video, investigators found that body worn camera evidence did not support the initial belief that officers were assaulted with a vehicle, and the firearm was determined to be an air gun, according to the Tulsa police. This led detectives to immediately amend charges against Delaney.

Eventually, Delaney pleaded guilty to obstructing Russell. After the investigation was finished, Chief Wendell Franklin and District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler presented the case to the Oklahoma Multi-County Grand Jury. Tulsa police said the grand jury returned an indictment against Russell for misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm.

Russell's indictment will be delivered to the Tulsa District Attorney's Office on Friday, Sept. 4 for formal filing, according to a statement by Tulsa DA officials.

Officials said Russell is cooperating with the investigation.

"We have been in communication with counsel for Officer Russell, and arrangements will be made for Officer Russell to appear before the District Court of Tulsa County following the filing of the indictment," officials said.

Here is the full statement released by District Attorney Stephen A. Kunzweiler's office on Thursday:

Today we were informed by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office that an indictment of Tulsa Police Officer Aaron Russell was rendered by the State’s Multi-County Grand Jury. Our Office is familiar with the investigation of Officer Russell after it was initially presented to us by the Tulsa Police Department’s Detective Division. After consultation with the Tulsa Police Department, to include Chief Wendell Franklin, it was agreed upon to present the investigation to the Multi-County Grand Jury. It is our understanding that the indictment will be delivered to the Office of the Tulsa County District Attorney on September 4, 2020 for formal filing.

Officer Russell has been cooperative with this investigation from the outset. We have been in communication with counsel for Officer Russell, and arrangements will be made for Officer Russell to appear before the District Court of Tulsa County following the filing of the indictment. As in all criminal matters the law of the State of Oklahoma and the law of the United States of America is clear. A person who is accused of a crime is presumed innocent. That presumption remains with that person until and unless a judge or a jury determines otherwise.

Russell's attorney, Scott Wood, spoke with 2 Works for You about the indictment.

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

The Tulsa Police Department said Russell has been placed on administrative leave since the shooting in March, and he will remain on leave until the case is complete.

Russell's next court date is March 2021.

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