The Oklahoman

Appeals court issues stay in case of police officer accused of killing man

- Josh Dulaney The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a temporary halt in the district court case of a police officer who fatally shot a man holding a baseball bat.

Chance Avery, a 35-year-old corporal with The Village Police Department, faces either a second-degree murder charge or an alternativ­e first-degree manslaught­er charge after fatally shooting Christophe­r Poor, 49, three times on July 25, 2020, inside a home in the 1600 block of Downing Street.

Avery was inside the residence at the request of Poor’s wife, who was picking up some personal belongings, when Poor ran from the garage into the living room clutching a bat, police said.

Police body camera video shows Poor’s wife saying he had been “drinking pretty hard,” and “he’s just so mean.”

At issue is whether Avery used excessive force. In September, Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong reversed Special Judge Lisa K. Hammond’s decision to dismiss the case.

While Hammond said prosecutor­s failed to establish that Avery committed a crime, Truong told attorneys for both sides that excessive force arguments “are questions of fact for the jury to decide.”

Truong ruled that Avery must face trial over the fatal shooting.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who filed the charge against Avery, has argued that Avery failed to de-escalate the situation and used excessive force in killing Poor.

He told Truong that Judge Hammond ignored Avery’s actions and subverted the role of a jury.

Avery’s attorney, Gary James, filed a petition asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse Truong’s ruling and stay the proceeding­s of the district court case.

James argued that in Oklahoma, there must be a “finding of excessive force prior to an officer being subject to the criminal laws of this state,” and Hammond found no such use of excessive force.

Truong applied the law in such a way that “every time an officer makes an arrest in Oklahoma County, they are now subject to the criminal laws of the state of Oklahoma for assault and battery, kidnapping and a myriad of other crimes,” James wrote in the petition.

James also argues that Hammond’s ruling did not show “an abuse of discretion” in reaching her decision.

In a Sept. 30 order, the Court of Criminal Appeals granted the stay of district court proceeding­s, and directed Truong to file a response to the issues raised by James within 30 days.

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