At approximately 6:15 PM on June 12, 2014, Oklahoma police officer David Jehle shot Marquis Pegues in a laundromat after the two engaged in a physical confrontation, rendering the victim paraplegic. Pegues, who is schizophrenic, was in the middle of a psychotic break when he was shot. In response to the series of unfortunate events, he filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city, which he recently agreed to settle for $50,000.
On that fateful day, police were initially called to investigate reports of a man wielding a knife outside of a tattoo parlor located nearby the laundromat, which Pegues eventually ran into. However, several witnesses reported he had disarmed himself prior to entering the establishment and was sans any weapons while inside. Police officials allege Jehle, who was 31 at the time, drew his firearm prior to going inside, further stating Pegues was compliant with Jehle’s initial order to get down on the ground. Things became physical between the two men only after Jehle attempted to handcuff Pegues. Bill Citty, who serves as Oklahoma City’s Police Chief, maintains the officer did nothing wrong.
Though the shooting was found to be warranted by the state’s County District Attorney David Prater, Pegues’ lawsuit, filed on his behalf by his mother Carlette Bradley, alleged Jehle never received sufficient training by the city on how to handle a mentally ill suspect in a calm and non-confrontational way, which ultimately resulted in chaos and injurious gunfire.
In a sworn affidavit provided to the court, police reported, “Pegues exploded up and attacked Jehle, driving Jehle to his back. Pegues got on top of Jehle and placed his left hand on Jehle’s holstered firearm. The suspect then began to repeatedly strike Jehle in the face with his fists and grab Jehle by the throat.” The entire altercation, including the shooting, was captured on video surveillance cameras and only lasted a manner of seconds; Pegues was purportedly shot three times.
Attorney Mark Hammons later explained the state of mind his client Pegues was in at the time, mentioning he wasn’t sure if his medication had stopped working properly or if he had stopped taking it altogether. Speaking to the press, Hammons said, “He was feeling intense physical pain. He was not completely oriented or rational. He was in an area with a number of people, had a knife out, was not threatening people with the knife but was swinging it around.” Hammons further stated that while they did not believe Jehle shot Pegues with malicious intent, he was negligent in how he responded to the situation considering Pegues’ heightened state of irrational behavior as opposed to that of someone who had just committed an actual crime.
Both Jehle, who is still employed by the police department and did not receive any disciplinary action over the incident, and the Okalahoma City Police Department believe the shooting was justified, despite its life-altering outcome for Pegues. Citty said, “The officer, to this day, feels like he didn’t do anything wrong and we support him on that and the district attorney supported him on that. Everybody felt like the officer did what he had to do to protect himself from any further harm,” adding, “our position is it is a justified shooting. I don’t want people to think that … we’re settling this case because this young officer did something wrong. Because that’s not the case at all.”
He cited the city’s desire to avoid the amount of time, money and stress inevitably involved with a trial as the reason they agreed to settle. The department also agreed to increase training for its officers in how to effectively deal with people who suffer from physical and/or emotional disabilities. However, Citty went on record stating he believes the training program already in place is enough.
Though the initial lawsuit, first filed in the state’s district court and later moved to federal court, sought upwards of $175,000, all parties involved agreed on the $50,000 settlement. The money will go to Bradley, as she serves as her son’s guardian.