Sand Springs Police Department releases bodycam footage of deadly shooting incident

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The Sand Springs Police Department held a press conference Monday morning at the Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center to address a recent use of deadly force incident. On Sunday, September 1st at approximately 8:20 p.m., following a high speed pursuit, Lieutenant Kevin O’Keefe was the victim of a vehicular assault and fired his weapon at Robert W. Desjarlais Jr., killing the suspect.

Desjarlais was 49 years old and his only criminal record was a pair of speeding tickets in the 1990s. The department has yet to receive results from toxicology, and at present time it is unclear what his motivations were for fleeing or assaulting the officer. Police Chief Mike Carter declined to comment on whether Desjarlais was in possession of any illegal contraband.

At 8:12 p.m. Lt. O’Keefe was stopped at the intersection of West 41st Street and South 129th West Avenue when he encountered a white two-door sedan traveling east on 41st. He witnesses the suspect’s vehicle swerve and nearly hit the curb, causing the officer to attempt a routine traffic stop.

Desjarlais attempts to evade the officer and leads O’Keefe on a six-minute chase through several Prattville neighborhoods, reaching speeds in excess of 50 m.p.h. in residential areas. O’Keefe briefly loses sight of the vehicle on multiple occasions, but locates Desjarlais traveling southbound on 145th West Avenue, between the intersections of West 56th Street and West 61st Street.

O’Keefe blocks the southbound lane of 145th and partially exits his patrol car, using the driver’s side door for cover. He orders Desjarlais to stop the vehicle four times before the suspect rams the officer’s vehicle, pinning him between the door and the body of the car. Unable to move or breath, O’Keefe discharges his firearm four times into the suspect vehicle, causing the driver to break off and swerve into a drainage ditch.

O’Keefe maintained radio contact throughout the chase and immediately informs the officers en route that shots have been fired. Following the shoot, Desjarlais’s vehicle entered a drainage ditch and stops moving. The first reinforcements arrive approximately 30 seconds after the shoot, but officers don’t approach the vehicle till additional units arrive.

Full video has been provided to the media, but out of respect for his family, Sandite Pride News has elected not to post any footage of the deceased, or of officers breaching the vehicle.

Clearly shaken up, O’Keefe can be heard on camera reminding himself to breathe more than two minutes after the shoot. Officers are slow to approach the vehicle due to deployed airbags obstructing their view of the suspect. O’Keefe orders Desjarlais to turn off the vehicle and exit the vehicle, but he is non-responsive.

O’Keefe holsters his sidearm and transitions to a taser prior to approaching the vehicle. Officers approach the vehicle from the rear driver’s side and remove the deceased approximately eight minutes following the shoot. Officers are unable to find a pulse and immediately separate O’Keefe from the scene and remove his camera.

Per the department’s 2019 Policing Plan, the investigation has been turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, who will present their findings to the Tulsa County District Attorney. The D.A. will then determine whether there are any appropriate charges against the officer. SSPD has partnered with OSBI since 2016 for investigations into use of deadly force. This is the first time that partnership has been needed.

Following the OSBI’s report, an internal review will be conducted by the SSPD in tandem with the department’s Use of Force Review Board, which includes civilian representation.

This is the first fatal shooting involving a Sand Springs Police Officer since 2015. On average, the department only uses deadly force half a dozen times a year. Prior to 2015, the department hadn’t had a fatal shooting in over a decade.