DEATHS

Jimmie Dale Barnes, 72

Born January 15, 1948

Died July 8, 2020

S. T. Gist, 84

Born August 11, 1935

Died July 8, 2020

William Thomas Duncan, 78

Born June 5, 1942

Died July 7, 2020

Harold Gene McBride, 68

Born August 11, 1951

Died July 7, 2020

Donald Lou Tillman, 80

Born June 23, 1940

Died July 6, 2020

Rene V. "STONEY" Schoats, 75

Born November 21, 1944

Died July 5, 2020

Nona Louise Chastain, 77

Born August 12, 1942

Died July 5, 2020

Lanette Elaine Wofford, 63

Born August 7, 1956

Died July 5, 2020

Vicoria Lynn "Vicki" Killingsworth, 60

Born September 13, 1959

Died July 4, 2020

William Glass, 71

Born November 15, 1948

Died July 4, 2020

CLICK TO SEE MORE >>

Our death notices and obits are always free to the families and funeral homes.

Sunday, July 12, 2020, 8:21 AM

Muskogee Police Officer Lynn Hamlin released the following:

On today’s date 07/11/2020, at approximately 8:15 pm officers were dispatched to 810 North “K” street in reference to a shooting. When they arrived on scene they discovered a male subject that had been shot.

He was taken by ambulance to St Francis Muskogee and then transported to a Tulsa hospital in critical condition.

This is an ongoing investigation and there is no further information at this time.

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elite divorce

Friday, July 10, 2020, 11:53 AM

The Georgia-Pacific mill, Muskogee’s largest private employer, is laying off workers today, according to workers at the mill and a company spokesman.

Georgia-Pacific has not confirmed the specific number of people being laid off, but workers say it is 90 people in the commercial lines. Commercial lines are products used in hotels, restaurants and hospitals.

Eric Abercrombie, media relations representative at the company, said he’s not sure the specifics on the Muskogee mill.

“We are adjusting in operations based on market conditions,” he said. “But I’m not sure specifically about the Muskogee mill.”

He said a Muskogee representative will call to discuss details. We will report those here when they do.

The mill has been in operation in Muskogee since 1976, when it was owned by Fort Howard, which later merged with the James River Corporation in 1997 to form Fort James, and was acquired by Georgia-Pacific in 2000. Georgia-Pacific was bought by Koch Industries in 2005 and taken private.

If the 90 layoffs number is accurate, it represents more than 10 percent of the mill’s workforce.

UPDATE 12:30 P.M.: Jennifer Rector from the Muskogee mill called to clarify.

The number of employees being laid off today is 80, not 90, but it’s still 10 percent of the mill’s total workforce.

“These are short-term, temporary layoffs,” she said. “People aren’t traveling as much as they used to or going out to restaurants because of the COVID pandemic, so market demand isn’t there for the commercial products.”

The mill’s commercial lines can’t easily be reconfigured to manufacture other products, she said, so the mill decided for layoffs similar to furlough; when the market picks back up, those employees will be able to return.

“Unemployment is beneficial right now because of the CARE act,” she said. “Therefore, we believe our employees will still be okay.”

Company benefits will still be active for the laid-off workers for up to 12 weeks.

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Friday, July 10, 2020, 7:39 AM

Patti Hall, 92, of Welling, was killed yesterday in a wreck just east of Tahlequah, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Hall was a passenger in a 2005 Dodge pickup driven by Mary Hall, 75, of Tahlequah, who was not injured.

The exact details of the wreck are still under investigation, including the condition of the driver and the cause of the collision.

Patti Hall was pronounced dead at the scene. She was not wearing a seatbelt, but Mary Hall was.

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Thursday, July 9, 2020, 12:11 PM

A Muskogee County man has died of COVID-19, the state Health Department said today.

The man, who was older than 65, is the 14th COVID death from Muskogee County.

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Thursday, July 9, 2020, 9:32 AM

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that members of federally recognized Native American tribes cannot be tried in state courts if the crimes they’re accused of occurred within the traditional boundaries of Indian reservations.

Most of Muskogee is inside the Creek reservation.

Writing for the court, Justice Gorsuch said the following:

On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever... The government further promised that ”[no] State or Territory [shall] ever have a right to pass laws for the government of such Indians, but they shall be allowed to govern themselves.”

Gorsuch went on to say “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

The decision has far-reaching implications, both to criminal law, criminal convictions and possibly even civil cases.

Many cases will have to be retried in federal or Native American courts where the defendant was a Native American enrolled in a federally-recognized tribe. In the future, state courts will not be allowed to prosecute members of federally-recognized tribes; those cases will either go to federal court or the Creek Nation court in Okmulgee.

Several lawyers contacted today were unsure how this decision will shake out with previous convictions and future cases.

“They’re not ready,” one lawyer said of the Creek Nation court in Okmulgee. “If all those cases come their way, they just don’t have the courtrooms or ... or anything, really. They’re just not prepared.”

You can read the ruling here.

UPDATE, 12:01 P.M.: The state attorney general and several tribes just released the following joint statement:

The State of Oklahoma, Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations released the following joint statement today following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case.

The State, the Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole Nations have made substantial progress toward an agreement to present to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice addressing and resolving any significant jurisdictional issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

The Nations and the State are committed to ensuring that Jimcy McGirt, Patrick Murphy, and all other offenders face justice for the crimes for which they are accused. We have a shared commitment to maintaining public safety and long-term economic prosperity for the Nations and Oklahoma.

The Nations and the State are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws, and regulations that support public safety, our economy, and private property rights. We will continue our work, confident that we can accomplish more together than any of us could alone.

UPDATE, 12:06 P.M.: Former Muskogee mayor and Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General John Tyler Hammons issued the following statement about the ruling:

The history of Indians in the United States is one filled with broken promises. However, the ruling this morning upholds the promises federal officials made all those years ago. Only Congress can take away a tribe’s reservation. The mere passage of time is not sufficient to take away tribal rights. While there can be very little doubt that the Dawes Act of the late 1800s tried to destroy tribal governments, the court today ruled those efforts were not enough to extinguish the tribes. As far as the law is concerned, the tribes continue to govern their territory in much of eastern Oklahoma.

As a practical matter, the ruling places an entirely new obligation on every prosecutor in eastern Oklahoma. As of this moment, whether the defendant and the victim are both “Indians” are now elements which must be proven (or rather, disproven) beyond a reasonable doubt at trial for the state to have jurisdiction in every criminal charge. Every arrest made by a police officer in eastern Oklahoma will likewise be subject to that obligation as any arrest could potentially be challenged as unlawful without an inquiry into the defendant’s Indian status. Much like the landmark ruling in Miranda v Arizona from 1966 which required police to inform citizens of their right to an attorney, the McGirt decision is going to be a sea change affecting all of law enforcement in eastern Oklahoma. There are several issues which the various local and state law enforcement agencies are going to have to resolve moving forward in order to ensure public safety is preserved. The consequences of today’s ruling will be have effects for years to come.

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Thursday, July 9, 2020, 7:48 AM

Native American Association is seeking a fresh look for the second annual Indigenous Peoples Holiday in Muskogee. The group is looking for a local artist that can depict native culture with any artifacts that exhibit native art.

Applicants must be an enrolled tribal citizen. When submitting artwork include a copy of your CDIB. Entry fee is $10.00.

The winner will receive $100.00 and their art design will be featured on the new Indigenous Peoples Holiday shirts. Two runners up will receive a free IDP shirt.

Submit all artwork to MONAA P.O. Box 242 Muskogee, OK 74402

Artwork must be submitted by July 17th the deadline of the contest.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 8:05 AM

Justin Neel

Justin Dale Neel, 32, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with a felony count of domestic abuse with a prior pattern of physical abuse, according to documents filed with the case yesterday.

Neel, who was featured last month in a video from March showing Muskogee Police Lieutenant Devin Beach choking him and then kneeling on his neck after another domestic violence allegation, is now facing charges of abuse again of his pregnant girlfriend.

According to police, Neel allegedly grabbed the woman by her hair, slung her around and bit her on the shoulder.

Neel was previously convicted of possession of controlled dangerous substance in jail in 2010 and sentenced to 10 years suspended. He was also convicted in 2013 of grand larceny and got four years suspended. In 2018, he was convicted of unauthorized use of a vehicle and sentenced to three years in prison with credit for time served.

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big papas

Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 7:41 AM

A change to Oklahoma law that added preschools to the list of schools that medical marijuana dispensaries could not be within a thousand feet would have closed numerous dispensaries throughout the state. The Legislature passed an amendment removing the addition of preschools, but Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed it.

The suit, available for viewing here, has resulted in a temporary halt to the enforcement of the law, which also included a two-year residency requirement for ownership of dispensaries.

The stay only lasts until after the 2021 legislative session, after which, either the government will change the law or the lawsuit will continue, its lead attorney, Ron Durbin of Tulsa, said.

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locke law office

Monday, July 6, 2020, 6:11 PM

Kimberly Bales was killed in a head-on wreck on North York Street around 2:20 p.m., according to Officer Lynn Hamlin of the Muskogee Police Department.

Bales was driving south and hit a curb with the right side of her 2005 Honda Pilot, Hamlin said, and overcorrected, colliding head-on with a 2015 Chrysler 200 driven by Anthony Tye Diel.

Bales was thrown into the back of her vehicle. Muskogee County EMS pronounced her dead at the scene. Diel was treated and released for minor injuries.

Bales did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt, Hamlin said.

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Monday, July 6, 2020, 7:35 AM

After 49 mayors, Muskogee is about to swear in its 50th — and first African American.

City Councilor Marlon Coleman, after winning 60 percent of the run-off vote against Wayne Divelbiss, is also the pastor of Muskogee’s Temple of Hope church.

There will be a ceremonial swearing-in and reception at the outdoor pavilion and courtyard at the Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston, in downtown Muskogee at 4 p.m.. For those who are unable to attend the event at the Civic Center, another ceremonial swearing-in will take place prior to the council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 229 W Okmulgee.

The City Council meeting is open to the public, but the city encourages interested parties to watch it on TV instead: bit.ly/MuskogeeCityCouncilLIVE or on Suddenlink Channel 14 and as well as streaming via FacebookLive @MyMuskogee. This will be Mayor-Elect Coleman’s first meeting as presiding mayor.

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Monday, July 6, 2020, 7:30 AM

Russell Jobe of Muskogee was sitting in his house on Grand Avenue around 9 p.m. on Saturday when Jarrod Godsey allegedly tried to break in. Police were called, but by the time they arrived, Godsey was lying on the floor inside the house, with back patio glass broken everywhere.

Godsey was pronounced dead at the scene from an arrow wound.

Police report that they’ve been called to the scene numerous times over the last month to deal with Godsey harassing Jobe.

An investigation is ongoing.

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Friday, July 3, 2020, 9:22 AM

The Muskogee City Council will meet today at 10 a.m. to consider appointing Tracy Hoos as Ward 4 city councilor, replacing new Mayor Marlon Coleman. The meeting, called on July 1 for today, despite the fact that today is a federal holiday and the city hall is closed, is expected to precede an outdoor ceremony tomorrow to swear Coleman in.

Asked why the rush to fill the seat today instead of waiting for the next regular city council meeting, two city council members told MuskogeeNOW they had no explanation for why the urgency.

The consideration of Hoos is the only thing on the agenda of the special unscheduled meeting.

UPDATE: The city responded with this:

Re: your article on the special call city council meeting regarding the appointment of Tracy Hoos. I wanted to make some clarifications!

The vacated seat that will be left once Mayor-Elect Coleman takes the oath of office on Monday, in accordance with the Muskogee City Charter Section 2:06, the appointment to the vacated seat (filled by that appointment until the next general election) must be approved by council.

The special call meeting was called by Mayor Boydston, per city ordinance 48 hours in advance per the Open Meeting Act and posted on site. It was also posted on the agenda and minutes section of our website at the same time. A Facebook post was also made later that same day.

This morning’s special call meeting was attended by all 8 members of council and Mayor Boydston. The appointment for Dr. Tracy Hoos as Ward 4 councilor to fill the remainder of Mr. Coleman’s council term, was unanimously approved by council (a vote of 9-0) this morning, but is, of course, contingent on the certification of the election by the Muskogee County Election Board which will meet at 4:00pm today, with certified results given around 5:00pm.

Having this appointment approved by council in advance ensures complete ward representation at every meeting (purchasing, planning, public works, finance, and city council) that will occur on Monday, July 6, 2020.

The response did not address the urgency of calling a meeting on a federal holiday three days before the council’s regular meeting, which is when Coleman’s seat will be officially vacated. The city charter does not require a vacated seat to be filled before the council’s next meeting.

To answer that, city spokeswoman Mia Trout responded “The meeting was called, with all of council present, because Mayor Boydston called said meeting.”

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Friday, July 3, 2020, 8:25 AM

Stephen Knight

Stephen Mark Knight, 45, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with felony kidnapping after a coffee date gone awry, according to documents filed with the case.

The 41-year-old victim wrote the following in a protective order she filed against Knight:

Met Mr. Knight for coffee and he kiddnaped (SIC) me and held me until 5 a.m. the next day.

Knight kept the victim in his basement on Fondulac Street for 15 hours, according to a police affidavit filed with the case. In addition, he allegedly threatened her with knives if she tried to leave.

He was released from jail yesterday on a $15,000 bond.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story used the surname McKnight for Knight.

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secret desires

Thursday, July 2, 2020, 12:41 PM

Muskogee Police spokeswoman Lynn Hamlin just sent the following:

On the evening of 07-01-2020, K9 officers were training on tracking at the Muskogee Police Department range. After completing a short track Officer Hignite put his K9 Oli back in the air conditioned car. A few minutes passed while the training track was debriefed and Officer Hignite went to check on Oli who was unresponsive but breathing.

They immediately started to revive him and take measures to cool him down not knowing if it was heat related or not at this point. Officers then took Oli to the Tulsa Emergency Animal Hospital where Oli was pronounced dead. It is undetermined if this was heat or heart related at this time.

Oli was only 4 years old and has been with our department since July 2018. He will be missed by his handler Officer Hignite as well as all of us here at the Muskogee Police Department.

Thank you for your service Oli.

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Thursday, July 2, 2020, 8:07 AM

The Cherokee Nation is contributing nearly half a million dollars total to 136 rural Oklahoma fire departments. The contributions help to support volunteer fire departments, which otherwise rely on fundraisers, membership dues and the help of good Samaritans to maintain their vital operations.

Traditionally, checks for $3,500 each are distributed to the departments when the tribe holds its annual Volunteer Firefighter Appreciation Banquet, where two Volunteer Fire Departments of the Year and five Volunteer Firefighters of the Year are also honored for their service. However, this year, due to concerns caused by COVID-19, the tribe has chosen to forego an in-person gathering in order to keep first responders safe.

Funding provided to the 136 departments will help with equipment, fuel or other items needed to protect lives and properties of families in rural northeastern Oklahoma. The funding is set aside in the tribe’s budget each year.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020, 7:26 AM

Marlon Coleman is Muskogee’s next mayor, making him the first black mayor in Muskogee’s history.

At the same time, the city rejected the idea of a strong mayor, opting to continue instead with the mayor being one council member and a city manager running the city’s day-to-day details.

State Rep. George Sneed, R-Muskogee, again defeated former Rep. George Faught for the District 14 seat in the state house. Sneed and Faught are both Republicans, and no Democrat ran for the office, so the primary was a re-election for Sneed.

Muskogee County Court Clerk Paula Sexton was re-elected to her post.

Muskogee County Sheriff candidates Andy Simmons and Michael Mahan face a runoff in their election. Simmons got just under 50 percent of the vote, while Mahan got almost 35 percent.

The runoff election is Aug. 25.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020, 7:20 AM

Cherokee Nation Environmental Specialists Nick Clark and Logan Girty swab a high-touch surface with an environmental testing swab that will be tested for traces of COVID-19 to ensure employees are safe and that the tribe’s sanitation tactics are working in the fight against COVID-19.

The Cherokee Nation is adding surface testing to its list of safety protocols across its tribal government office locations. This new testing capability can detect the presence of COVID-19 in both the air and on surfaces to better protect employees and visitors inside.

On June 4, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed a contract with Elite Element Testing Laboratory out of Sallisaw to perform and provide results of environmental testing within Cherokee Nation government buildings and offices across the tribe’s 14 counties. The signing of the agreement is also a result of the resolution passed by the Council of the Cherokee Nation in late April, approving Chief Hoskin to enter into contracts that are a part of the tribe’s direct response effort to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the environmental testing system, called ENVIROx-RV, the COVID-19 virus can accurately be detected in less than six hours of the laboratory receiving the test sample. This rapid testing system can also detect as many as nine other viral organisms such as the flu in the air and on surfaces.

The tribe has now received about 900 testing kits, and has already begun conducting surface testing across several tribal departments that have the most contact with the general public.

Testing will continue in July and will be routinely performed in all of Cherokee Nation’s 150 government office locations within the tribe’s 14 counties.

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servpro

Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 8:43 AM

Today, Muskogee decides whether it wants a strong mayor (who is involved in all aspects of running the city) or retains the city manager position (a professional hired to run the city under the auspices of the city council).

In addition, the city will elect a new mayor, potentially a new sheriff (today is the Republican primary, but former Sheriff Charles S. Pearson, the only Democrat, has not dropped out of the race), county court clerk, state representative and more.

Officials urge voters to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, such as keeping six feet away from other people, wearing face masks and gloves.

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Monday, June 29, 2020, 7:44 AM

Professional eater Brandon Clark is going to try the seemingly impossible feat of wolfing down a huge four-pound chicken fried steak with all the fixings today starting at 2 p.m. at Club Lunch downtown, according to organizer Ashley Davis.

The challenge is to eat the following in 45 minutes:

  • 4 pound chicken fried steak with gravy
  • garnished with jumbo chicken tenders
  • double mashed potatoes
  • two extra sides
  • side salad with dressing
  • yeast roll and Club Lunch’s jalapeño cornbread
  • one piece of pie

Clark is scheduled to be at the restaurant at 1 p.m. and the eating starts around 2 p.m., according to Davis.

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charlies chicken

Monday, June 29, 2020, 7:20 AM

Jorge Ortiz-Casiano, 27, of Fort Gibson was hurt early Saturday morning in a single-motorcycle wreck, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Ortiz-Casiano was riding his 2000 Kawasaki motorcycle eastbound on Smith Ferry Road about three miles east of Muskogee when he failed to negotiate a curve and fell over, the patrol reported. The motorcycle slid on its side for 60 feet, departed the roadway and flipped, traveling an additional 54 feet before coming to rest on its side.

Ortiz-Casiano was flown by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was admitted in good condition with head, arm, leg, trunk internal and trunk external injuries.

He was not wearing a helmet at the time. The highway patrol cited unsafe speed as the cause of the wreck.

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Friday, June 26, 2020, 12:58 PM

Warning: The video linked here contains graphic language and violence.


(Audio on this video starts 30 seconds in; a standard affection of the brand of body cam the Muskogee Police use)

Justin Dale Neel, 32, of Muskogee was arrested around 3 p.m. on March 17 of this year on complaints of failure to appear, assault and battery on a pregnant victim resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.

Officer Veronica Kennedy arrested Neel after police say they saw him physically assault his then-girlfriend. After Neel was cuffed, Kennedy’s body cam video, obtained by MuskogeeNOW, shows Neel asking police to let his girlfriend get his necklace before he is taken to jail.

Muskogee Police Lt. Devin Beach yells “hey” twice at Neel, ostensibly to get him to be quiet.

At 39 seconds into the video. Neel leans forward toward Beach while being held from behind by Kennedy, and yells “hit me, you punk-ass bitch!” At 40 seconds, Beach grabs Neel by the neck and face and pushes him to a police cruiser, slamming his head into it. Then, through gritted teeth, Beach yells “who the hell do you think you are?” and wraps his arm around Neel’s neck, his forearm compressing the suspect’s windpipe and vocal cords.

Kennedy puts a can of pepper spray into the suspect’s face and he slumps to his knees and continues asking for his girlfriend to get his necklace, eliciting several orders to “shut up” from Beach, who then places his knee on the prone man’s neck and drives his face into the asphalt.

Asked yesterday about the video and the restraint techniques used by Beach during the arrest, the Muskogee Police Department acknowledged that the forms of restraint used by Beach were not authorized by the department and that “corrective action was taken,” though it would not specify what action was actually taken.

The neck restraint approved by the department is called a “vascular neck restraint” and is fashioned after similar MMA moves that use the arm to compress the carotid artery to suppress blood flow to the brain and cause unconsciousness. The department only allows officers who are trained in the technique to use it in “limited circumstances,” including where the officer believes the suspect has the reasonable potential to harm others or himself. Beach, however, is not trained in the technique, the department said, and thus not authorized to use it.

Further, Beach did not use the vascular neck restraint technique. Instead, he used a “bar arm choke” which compresses the windpipe and vocal cords and suppresses the air flow to the lungs, which can induce unconsciousness. That dangerous and potentially fatal technique is not approved by the Muskogee Police Department for any application. Also not approved is using a hand to choke a suspect.

The police department reported that if he had possessed the proper training, it found Beach would have been justified in using an approved restraint technique because its review of the video showed that Neel was about to head-butt him and that his reaction was not in response to the suspect calling him a “punk-ass bitch.”

“When a suspect is handcuffed,” the official statement reads, “his ability to inflict an assault on an officer is reduced, but is not eliminated. Lt. Beach, during the course of the incident, believed the suspect, acting with such intense anger, was going to strike Lt. Beach with his head.”

The statement goes on to reiterate that the techniques Beach used were not authorized by the department and “corrective action has been taken.”

Police department policy requires the police to get immediate medical attention for suspects against whom the correct vascular restraint method is used and to inform the medical personnel that a neck restraint was used. However, in this case, not only did they not get immediate medical attention for Neel, but when EMTs finally arrived to the holding area at the jail, they were only informed that Neel had a laceration on his head, and not that he was choked by an officer.

In addition, jail personnel are supposed to be informed of the usage of the technique, but they also were not.

The department also stated that leaning on the suspect’s neck with a knee is not an approved means of restraint. The department said it is implementing a “mandatory refresher” on new methods that do not utilize the unapproved technique.

Neal was convicted in 2006 of possession of controlled dangerous substance and possession of CDS in jail, for which he received a 3-year deferred sentence. In 2010, he was convicted of misdemeanor disturbing the peace for fighting in Coweta and using “language to evoke.” In the March 17 case, he has been charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse, misdemeanor assault on a police officer and misdemeanor resisting an officer. Police say they reached out to him about his request to file a brutality complaint against Beach, but they have been unable to reach him. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The Police Department’s responses to MuskogeeNOW’s questions on the incident can be read here. Note: the questions are the police department’s paraphrase of the questions, not as exactly asked by MuskogeeNOW, which appear below:

UPDATE 6/29: The police department said Beach’s discipline, though they still can’t specify what that entailed, was on May 12. Beach has had no complaints of excessive force in the past 30 years, according to police spokesperson Lynn Hamlin.

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Friday, June 26, 2020, 9:53 AM

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., announced today that the 68th Annual Cherokee National Holiday will be a virtual holiday this year.

Traditionally, the Cherokee National Holiday draws more than 100,000 visitors from both Oklahoma and out of state on Labor Day weekend. Due to the risks of COVID-19, and a recent uptick in cases in Oklahoma, and out of an abundance of caution for Cherokee citizen participants and visitor’s safety, the holiday will be celebrated by watching many key events online.

“It’s important we celebrate the great achievements of the Cherokee Nation, our government and our citizens, but COVID-19 still remains a threat, especially for our elders, and our community, with the thousands potentially coming into the Cherokee Nation Labor Day weekend,” Hoskin said. “This was a tough decision but we always want to err on the side of caution and protect our employees who put on the events and the public, so this year we felt it best to share our Cherokee National Holiday celebration and traditions safely online for viewers around the globe to tune in and see.”

This year spectators will be able to tune in from the convenience of home to watch the chief’s State of the Nation address, Cherokee art show, Miss Cherokee competition, demonstrations of traditional games and more.

Larger events, such as the annual parade, fishing derby, powwow, softball tournament and arts and crafts food and vendor markets, will be held regularly next year.

Check https://holiday.cherokee.org for a full list of activities. For questions about the holiday, call 918-822-2427.

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Thursday, June 25, 2020, 8:00 AM

Desmond T. Bennett, 22, of Wanette drowned to death late last night on Tenkiller Lake, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Bennett was operating a 2008 Sea Doo around 11 p.m. near Barnacle Bill’s Marina in Cherokee County when the vehicle failed to negotiate a cove and slammed into a tree. Bennett was pronounced dead at the scene by Cherokee Nation EMS. His passenger, Kenneth Allison, 26, of Vinita, was flown by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was admitted in stable conditions with leg injuries.

Troopers said Bennett smelled of alcohol. Both men were using personal flotation devices.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 8:10 AM

State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, has notified the City of Muskogee that it is the recipient of a state grant through the Recreational Trails Program.

Muskogee’s Grandview Park Trail and Bike Park was selected for a $300,000 grant to install an 8-foot-by-3,000-foot concrete trail with a half-mile loop and half-mile primitive trails.

“This is exciting news for the residents of Muskogee and for the city itself as it adds to the city’s list of attractions,” Frix said. “This gives area residents an additional place to walk, run or bike and it adds to the draw of Muskogee as a tourist destination, which boosts our local economy.”

The federal grant program is managed by the state Department of Tourism and Recreation and the Federal Highway Administration in consultation with the Department of the Interior. The RTP is a reimbursable 80/20 matching grant.

Funding for the Muskogee project includes $240,000 from the program and $60,000 from a sponsor match. Muskogee was one of only eight recipients statewide of the RTP.

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Monday, June 22, 2020, 9:44 AM

Oklahoma State Department of Health is urging Oklahomans who have chosen to attend large-scale gatherings in recent weeks to seek out testing for COVID-19, even if symptoms are not present.

As previously announced, OSDH encourages Oklahomans to seek COVID-19 testing both prior to attending large-scale gatherings and in the days following, and to wear a mask when physical distancing is a challenge. With active COVID-19 cases on the rise, OSDH is positioned to support and partner with local government leaders and communities with free testing, resources, and local public health guidance.

“As expected, Oklahoma’s urban areas as well as a few communities around the state are experiencing a rise in active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to increased social activity and mobility. We continue to have more than 80 free testing locations across the state, and we need Oklahomans to get tested, even those without symptoms, so we can identify active cases and work together to minimize community spread,” said Interim Commissioner Lance Frye, MD. “The Stitt administration and the Legislature prioritized COVID-19 data transparency with our nationally-recognized online dashboard. These daily updates protect individuals’ personal information while equipping local leaders with the best data to make adjustments to local public health guidance if needed. Our agency is well resourced to pro-actively partner with and provide guidance to those changes.”

The OSDH continues to make COVID-19 data transparent and publicly available, pointing to evidence-based guidance that allows local leaders, business owners, communities and individuals to make adjustments, and frequently reassess protocols, based on the active presence of COVID-19 locally. OSDH is committed to partnering with stakeholders on crafting recommendations for populations to take proactive measures to keep themselves safe and minimize spread.

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Friday, June 19, 2020, 9:20 AM

Muskogee celebrates Juneteenth at noon today at Elliott Park, 800 Altamont Street.

Juneteenth, a celebration of the notification of emancipation to Texas slaves, has come to represent in a broader sense the end of slavery itself.

Today’s celebration features free food provided by local restaurants Holy Smoke Barbecue, Golden Corral, Rib Crib, Charlie’s Chicken, Walmart and Runt’s Barbecue.

In addition, two semi loads of food boxes from Go Fresh food produce distributors will be available to attendees.

Nothing at the celebration will cost money, symbolizing the freedom of emancipation.

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Friday, June 19, 2020, 8:21 AM

Mitchell Young, 56, of Gore was injured yesterday afternoon around 12 miles south of Tahlequah in a car/motorcycle wreck, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Young was northbound on State Highway 82 on his 2009 Yamaha motorcycle when a 2004 Buick Rendezvous driven by Charles Campbell, 79, of Welling failed to yield to oncoming traffic and turned left onto a private drive, blocking the roadway and causing Young to run into him, according to the patrol. Young was transported by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where he was admitted in stable condition with head, trunk internal and leg injuries.

Campbell was not injured.

Young was not wearing a helmet.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020, 2:34 PM

Muskogee High School graduation will be held on Friday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Indian Bowl, 402 N. S Street, according to schools spokesman Steve Braun.

Students’ seats are spread out on the Indian Bowl field, and each student received six tickets for guests today in seats marked for social distancing.

No crowds will be allowed after the ceremony for pictures, and masks are required upon entrance.

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Thursday, June 18, 2020, 7:00 AM

The Muskogee Police released the following information:

A silver alert has been issued by the Muskogee Police Department for a missing 62 year old man believed to be in imminent danger.

Larry Bell was last seen on Sunday 06-14-2020 at approximately 10 PM. Bell is a 62 year old white male approximately 6 feet tall and weighs 232 pounds. He was last seen by his wife wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots. He has a large dolphin tattoo on his left arm and a smaller one on his right ankle. Bell suffers from dementia.

Bell left his residence driving a black 2010 Silverado with Cherokee Nation tag, CW1341. The truck has a dent in the right front fender and a chrome bar on the bed of the truck.

Please contact the Muskogee police Department at 918-577-6906 or Crime stoppers at 918-682-COPS (2677) if you see a subject matching this description.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 8:29 AM

Raheem Walker

Raheem Travon Walker, 18, of Muskogee is charged in Muskogee County District Court with first-degree rape of an unconscious victim, according to documents filed with the case.

On May 14, according to the case, Walker is alleged to have had sexual relations with the victim, who was unable to consent because she was intoxicated and unconscious at the time.

Walker confessed to police, according to an affidavit filed with the case, that he had sexual intercourse with the victim, and that he was aware the victim was “highly intoxicated.”

An arrest warrant has been issued for Walker.

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