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Uncut pepper spray video shows different story than the one on TV

WARNING: Graphic language in text and video.

Geneva Smith is shown cussing at police and ignoring their orders. (The link above takes you to our Facebook page to watch the video)

Dash cam video and body cam video released by the Muskogee Police Department of the pepper spraying of an 84-year-old woman earlier this month was heavily edited when displayed on a Tulsa TV station and subsequently on social media.

The heavily edited videos portray Muskogee police as abruptly and aggressively spraying pepper spray into the face of Geneva Smith, apparently without any good reason.

But the full video (above) shows a different story. Police Officer Michelle Casady’s dash cam captures her attempting to pull over Arthur Blackmon, Smith’s son. Blackmon does not stop for Casady, instead pulling into Smith’s driveway and starting to get out of his truck.

“Stay in the car!” Casady orders clearly in the video. “Get in the car! Get in the car!”

Blackmon ignores her order, rushing up to and then into his mother’s house. At that point, according to officers interviewed by MuskogeeNOW.com, Casady had reason to fear for her safety, not knowing why Blackmon was in such a rush to get inside the house.

Blackmon then repeatedly refused to open the front door, using graphic language in response to her repeated requests to open the door. Police officers then kick in the door and begin issuing commands to Blackmon, which he appears to disobey, leading them to deploy a taser, immediately immobilizing him.

Smith starts to approach the police, and they order her to stay where she is.

“Get out of my goddamn face!” she yells at them.

“I’m 84 years old, fuckers, don’t fuck with me!” she later yells at the police, who are ordering her to turn around so they can take her into custody. “I ain’t turning around for shit!”

Only after that final refusal does Casady warn Smith that she will spray her, and then sprays Smith in the face with the pepper spray.

Blackmon was not the registered owner of the truck he was driving, nor was it registered to anyone at the house, which led police to suspect he might have broken in or invaded the home. They only learned it was his mother’s home after they had broken in the door.

Smith is no stranger to interactions with police. She was charged with drug trafficking in 2005, possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute in 1998 and larceny in 2011, when she was 79.

Her son, Arthur Blackmon, who was just released from prison in November and is on parole, has multiple felony charges on his record, including felony DUI (two charges), first-degree rape, robbery with firearms (three separate charges), assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, felonious possession of a firearm and first-degree burglary.

Blackmon was convicted and received two four-year sentences for assault and burglary, a 30-year sentence for robbery with firearms and two 25-year sentences for robbery with a dangerous weapon after two or more felony convictions.

Another video, which we will post after we’re done processing it, shows Blackmon after his arrest at the police department saying “You lying motherfuckers. I was in my yard!”

You can also watch the video here.

Monday, August 29, 2016, 9:53 PM

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Archery center to open Tuesday

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden visit with Cherokee Nation citizen and world champion archer Joe Thornton at the Joe Thornton Archery Range groundbreaking event.

The Cherokee Nation will host a ribbon cutting Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the new Joe Thornton Archery Range near the tribe’s main complex in Tahlequah.

It is the first range ever built on tribal lands, and only the third public archery park in Oklahoma.

The Joe Thornton Archery Range bears the name of Cherokee Nation citizen Joe Thornton, the 1961 World Archery Champion. Thornton won the World Archery Championship in Oslo, Norway, in 1961 and the British National Championship in 1962. He was a member of the USA World Champion Archery team.

Thornton, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, will launch the inaugural arrow at the ceremony.

The park features a 70-meter, Olympic-style range with a 125-foot awning to shield archers from the weather. There is also a tower, restrooms and a 3D range.

The Cherokee Nation provided the land for the archery range and oversaw its construction. Fifty thousand dollars to help build the park was provided by the Archery Trade Association, which helps start archery parks. The Oklahoma Wildlife Department provided archery kits to local schools to use the range. The range will also be the site for this year’s traditional cornstalk shoot during the Cherokee National Holiday.

Monday, August 29, 2016, 8:20 AM

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Dance and swim party set for tomorrow

River Country Water Park, 3600 Arline, is hosting a dance and swim party tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Groups or solo amateur dancers ages 12 to 16 will do a two- to four-minute dance routine. Winners will receive a trophy and a season pass to the water park.

DJ “Music Man” from Oklahoma City will spin at the party.

Entry cost is $6.50 for students and $7.50 for adults.

Friday, August 26, 2016, 8:35 AM

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Network tabs at the top

We are always looking for ways to improve the site and make it easier for you to do things. If you look to the top of the site today, you’ll notice a row of tabs there with links to other sites in our network.

This was done to make it easier for you to navigate to those other sites without having to enter in their names by hand, and without cluttering up our interface.

You may have also noticed the darkening of our background. Again, this is to make it easier for your eyes to focus on the stories (and, if we’re being honest, the advertisers who make this site possible).

Today, we also added “smart quotes,” which means the quotation marks in stories face inward toward the things they’re quoting. It’s a thing maybe only we noticed, but the quotes facing the wrong way bugged us a great deal. Believe it or not, that’s a really difficult thing to pull off correctly.

In the past month, we have added these tabs, the refocusing of the background, an events calendar, a reconfigured weather system, upgrading the death notices and obituaries, the modernization of the “other news” section and smart quotes.

We hope these changes make the experience easier for you.

Please send us your opinions, and suggestions for future improvements here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 9:29 PM

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Muskogee pair charged in ‘life-threatening’ child abuse case

Logan Odell Bigelow
Logan Odell Bigelow and Laura Renai Sullivan of Muskogee are facing child abuse charges after police discovered a small child with “life-threatening" injuries.

Police were called to 2400 S. Cherokee, Trailer 39, on possible child abuse complaints around 8 p.m. on Aug. 17, according to an affidavit filed with the case.

Laura Renai Sullivan

When officers arrived, they discovered a four-year-old with bruises, a broken finger, swelling and a brain bleed. The child, abuse specialists concluded, had also been shaken violently.

An affidavit with the case states the child was four years old, but the case itself states the child was six.

The child, who is the child of Sullivan, was rushed to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where the child remains in critical condition.

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 8:58 AM

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River Regatta is this weekend

The ninth annual River Rumba Regatta gets going on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., but the kickoff party starts tomorrow night at 6:30.

The annual event pits local businesses and organizations against each other as they launch and race boats made from corrugated board.

There will be a live band at the party at Three Forks Harbor with a VIP area providing food, drinks and food vendors.

For more information: http://exchangeclubmuskogee. org/regatta/

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 8:06 AM

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Fort Gibson man hurt in motorcycle wreck

Douglas Rogers, 60, of Fort Gibson was transported to Saint John’s Hospital in Tulsa by Muskogee County EMS yesterday afternoon, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Rogers was riding his 1993 Honda Motorcycle westbound on Oklahoma Highway 80 near 380 Road in Cherokee County when he failed to negotiate a curve, the patrol stated. His motorcycle departed the roadway to the right and he suffered a head injury.

The patrol stated he had the “odor of alcohol” when they worked the wreck. He was not wearing a helmet.

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 8:01 AM

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Muskogee charity for children refuses $350 $4,250 $12,520 $17,160 $18,006 $19,350 from atheists

Matt Willbourn

Murrow Children’s Home in Muskogee has been helping needy Indian children for 140 years. The home, located at 2540 Murrow Circle, operates on donations - and on Title 1 money from the federal government.

This week, a Muskogee atheist group, Muskogee Atheist Community, tried to donate several hundred dollars to the home in time for its annual pow wow, its major fund raiser after a representative of the home approached one of its founders at his place of employment.

The man, Matt Wilbourne, later received a call stating the donation would not be accepted because it went against “everything we believe."

The atheist organization had already set up a GoFundMe account and had tripled the original donation of $100. The account one day later had raised $4250 to donate to the home.

“If (they) don’t accept our donation, we are going to donate it all to CampQuest, a camp for free-thinking” children, Wilbourn said. “It’s up to (them) whether impoverished children get the money or children of privilege get it.”

Dr. Sharon Woolwine, president of the Murrow board of trustees, said the home is declining the money on principle.

“He wants his organization’s name as a donor on our program for our pow wow,” she said. “That is unacceptable.”

Told that the group had mentioned they’re just trying to foster cooperation between atheists and Christians, she said it was still not acceptable.

“I don’t trust him,” she said. “I think he’s using it to get more publicity for his organization. We believe in Matthew 10:32-33.”

That scripture states that Jesus will acknowledge whoever acknowledges him before God in heaven.

Title 1 funds, which are gathered from taxpayers of all religious beliefs, don’t go against that provision, she said, because they’re not from a group that’s “against God,” even though up to 5 percent of those taxpayers are atheists, according to the latest data.

UPDATE 3:09 p.m.: The amount now collected to donate to the home is $12,520.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: During the course of today, the atheists have raised $17,160 to donate to the Murrow Home. MuskogeeNOW.com called Woolwine again to ask if that might change the organization’s position, and she yelled “I have no comment. Goodbye!” and hung up the phone. (The number is up to $18,006 now)

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: Some comments from those who have donated on the GoFundMe page:

I am a Christian who stands with the Muskogee Atheist Community today! Thank you for fighting back with love instead of spreading hateful words. You are a true inspiration, and I hope people of all religious backgrounds will take notice and follow your example. As a Christian, I am deeply saddened to hear about the way you have been treated, which is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. I’m proud of you guys for taking the high road on this one!

Donated! Bryan and Lisa Bond (Pastor of First Presbyterian Church ofVan Buren). Thank you for loving the kids.

Im happy to see Christian comments on here supporting this fundraiser. If your religious beliefs prevent you from caring for children, you need to really examine them closely.

Donated by an agnostic married to an atheist under the assumption that the funds raised will benefit the kids either through this organization or another.

Just because someone doesn’t believe in church, religion, or “god” it doesn’t make them immoral or unable to be compassionate and help those in need.

I wonder what the tribal council board members think of this. Here is a list of the board of trustee’s emails address. I bet the tribes would be more than happy to accept the money for their children regardless of where it came from. Let’s flood their inboxes. I worked at a childrens home and I know the kids don’t care where the money comes from. http://www.murrowindianchildrenshome .org/Board.html

My advice to Murrow Indian Children’s Home: Don’t perish while clinging to the steeple of your burning church because you rejected the rescue helicopter in favor of holding out for the firetruck you prayed God to send!

What baffles me most is the fact that she won’t accept the money with their name on the form, but she will accept it with a different name on the form knowing it still comes from the same place. If she was really adamant on believing she is on a moral high ground, that alone contradicts her.

UPDATE 8:52 p.m.: A post on Wilbourn’s Facebook page states that all but $5,000 of the money raised will go to Camp Quest Oklahoma. The remaining $5,000 will be donated anonymously to the Murrow home. If that donation is rejected, it will be donated to a local church for the purposes of the church donating to Murrow.

“We’ve had support from churches all over this nation today,” he said. “I’m sure one of them will gladly donate the money to Murrow.”

UPDATE Aug. 25, 8 a.m.: The total amount has reached $23,000. A group calling itself “Muskogee Christians Coming Together” has launched a GoFundMe campaign in response about an hour ago, but so far there are no donations.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 9:51 AM

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Bacone partners with another college on ministry degree

Bacone President Frank Willis and B.H. Carroll President Dr. Gene Wilkes in front of Bacone’s Memorial Chapel.

Earning a master’s degree has become more streamlined for Bacone College Christian ministry students, thanks to a new partnership.

The B.H. Carroll Theological Institute will offer Bacone graduates the opportunity to earn their Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE) or Master of Arts in Worship (MAW) through an advanced track - potentially reducing the number of hours needed to complete by up to 25 percent.

Dr. Norma Hedin, Carroll’s Senior Fellow of ministry and formation at the time of the agreement, said this partnership would effectively allow B.H. Carroll to offer Bacone Christian ministry majors an individualized degree plan.

Bacone President Franklin Willis said the partnership is a blessing for Bacone’s Christian ministry majors.

“This provides an expedited route for Bacone students to obtain their master’s,” he said. “And the hybrid format B.H. Carroll offers is something I strongly believe in - the virtual classroom is undoubtedly the road to the future.”

B.H. Carroll Theological Seminary was founded in 2004 when four professors of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary saw a declining number of enrollees in master’s level programs for a variety of reasons, said J. Stanley Moore, senior fellow and professor of church music and worship.

For more information, visit www.bacone.edu or www.bhcarroll.edu.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 9:13 AM

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Okay Schools get money, car from Cherokees

From left: Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, Okay Public Schools Principal Mark Hayes and Superintendent Charles McMahan, Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd, Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick and Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.

Okay Public Schools received a $1,000 check and a 2006 Ford to use for the school’s drivers education program from the Cherokee Nation late last week.

The donated funds came from Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan’s community assistance budget.

Tribal officials presented Okay Public Schools Superintendent Charles McMahan and Principal Mark Hayes the surplus vehicle this week.

“The support from the tribe is huge,” Hayes said. “Statewide, we are hurting. Our budgets are hurting and we are hoping for better days from our state legislature, but we always know we are going to have good days with the Cherokee Nation. They’ve been extremely generous to us, and we are greatly, greatly appreciative of that.”

In addition to the school donations - which included donations to six other schools as well - the Cherokee County Cattlemen’s Association also received a $1,000 check from the tribe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 8:38 AM

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Stigler woman hurt in motorcycle wreck

Kelly Carter, 55 of Stigler was hurt when her 2005 Harley-Davidson crashed a mile east of Wagoner on State Highway 51, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Carter was eastbound on the highway and failed to negotiate a curve, departing the roadway to the right, striking a culvert and flying off the motorcycle, striking a sign, the patrol reported.

She was flown by helicopter to Saint John’s hospital in Tulsa, where she is in critical condition with head, arm, leg and internal injuries. She was not wearing a helmet, and according to the patrol, she was traveling at an unsafe speed for the curve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 8:32 AM

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Man killed in motorcycle wreck near dam

Brian McElmurry

A man was killed in a motorcycle wreck near the Fort Gibson dam, according to emergency workers.

Brian Bias
The man was not transported by ambulance as he was pronounced dead at the scene.

We have a name for the victim, but we are unaware if his family has been notified, so we aren’t reporting it at this time.

UPDATE: The man’s name has been released as Brian McElmurry, 40, of Muskogee.

Here’s what happened, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol:

McElmurry was southbound on Oklahoma Highway 80 on his 2005 BMCM motorcycle and a 2004 GMC Yukon driven by Brian Bias, 48, of Fort Gibson was northbound.

According to the highway patrol, McElmurry’s motorcycle failed to negotiate a turn about a mile south of Oklahoma Highway 251-A and laid the bike down. Bias’s Yukon then struck the motorcycle and the driver.

Both drivers, according to the patrol, had the scent of alcoholic beverages on them.

Bias was arrested and booked into the Cherokee County Jail on charges of aggravated driving under the influence and transporting an open container of alcohol. His bond is set at $5,325.

A charge of aggravated driving under the influence means the driver’s blood-alcohol level tested at least twice the legal limit.

Sunday, August 21, 2016, 9:26 PM

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Mother, boyfriend jailed after brutal beating of three-year-old

Blaine Rice

Blaine Rice
Holly Zuniga-Griffin, 21, and Blane Rice, 17, of Muskogee are in jail after Zuniga’s three year old son was hospitalized with brutal injuries, according to Muskogee County Sheriff’s Investigator Melissa Jackson.

Zuniga, a dancer at Coco Bongos gentleman’s club south of town, lives in an apartment next to the club - the same apartment where two people were murdered last year. She left Rice to care for her son yesterday as she danced. Around midnight, Rice called 911, saying the child wasn’t breathing after his head hit a table and he began having seizures.

Holly Zuniga-Griffin

Holly Tegan Zuniga-Griffin
Medical professionals who observed the boy said his injuries - including a brain bleed and multiple bruises and contusions all over his body - were not come nsistent with a bump on the head, but rather with abuse.

The boy was rushed to the hospital.

Zuniga is being held on neglect charges after investigators began to suspect she knew of Rice mistreating the boy, and Rice is being held on abuse charges.

UPDATE: Rice was arrested on complaints of child abuse by injury. Zuniga was arrested on complaints of child neglect.

Saturday, August 20, 2016, 9:18 PM

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Pair charged with neglect for child living in horrible conditions

Charles Quick

Charles Quick, 40, of Muskogee and Bernadette Quick, 35, are facing a felony charge of child neglect after a 14-year-old child was found living in substandard conditions, according to documents filed with the case.

Bernadette Quick
The Quicks, according to the affidavit, neglected to provide food for the teenager, and forced the child to live in conditions described by a city inspector as “unfit."

The house, at 909 Denver, had no running water, with dog feces on the ground, trash “everywhere” and no food. There were also “a couple” of ash trays in the living room, where Quick admitted to the use of marijuana.

In addition, co-defendant Bernadette Quick allegedly assaulted her brother, Willie Wacoche, with a baseball bat, which is what prompted police to come to the residence.

Friday, August 19, 2016, 9:43 AM

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Couple charged with smoking meth with child around

Lloyd Ray Starkey Jr.

Lloyd Ray Starkey Jr., 47 of Muskogee and Diane Worley, 35, are facing charges of child neglect after they allegedly smoked methamphetamine in the presence of a 7-year-old.
Diane Worley
According to an affidavit filed with the case, the pair were smoking meth at 4400 Gibson, Trailer 206, while the child was in the residence. Worley, the affidavit states, also admitted to smoking meth while she was pregnant with her child, who was born May 1 of this year.

Starkey was previously convicted of possession of controlled dangerous substance, second-degree burglary and another case of possession, receiving a total of 15 years in prison sentences, 10 of which were suspended.

Friday, August 19, 2016, 9:35 AM

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Oktaha man appointed chair of board overseeing School for the Blind

Jack Tucker

Longtime educator Jack Tucker was elected to his second term as the chair of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services, which oversees Muskogee’s Oklahoma School for the Blind and numerous other programs. Tucker is a resident of Oktaha.

Tucker served as a teacher and principal at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf for more than 40 years.

There are almost 90,000 Oklahomans with disabilities served by the commission Tucker oversees. He has a visual disability and is a former client of the Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“It’s not only my belief - it’s almost my faith - that if you put a person in a situation and empower them and back off, they’re going to rise to their ability,” Tucker said.

Friday, August 19, 2016, 9:24 AM

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Police to focus on drunk driving over Labor Day

Muskogee Police will participate in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign over the Labor Day weekend, according to Officer Lincoln Anderson.

The city will have extra officers on patrol starting today and lasting through the Labor Day holiday, he stated in a release.

Pulling over and arresting drunk drivers helps improve the safety of everyone else on the road, the release states, and saves lives.

Friday, August 19, 2016, 9:17 AM

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Police seek help finding robbery suspect

Muskogee police are asking for the public’s help finding a suspect in a robbery earlier this month.

On Aug. 7, around 1:15 a.m., a Muskogee woman went to an Automatic Teller Machine at Armstrong Bank.

A man approached her with a knife and told her to give him all the money she had just withdrawn.

The man is around 6 feet tall or taller with a medium build. In the photo, he is wearing a back brace.

If you have any information or know who the man is, contact 918-682-COPS and ask for Investigator Anthony Brown. Your information can remain anonymous.

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 3:12 PM

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Abused child rushed to Tulsa hospital

A Muskogee child was rushed to a Tulsa area hospital by helicopter yesterday after officials discovered significant injuries.

We are hearing a lot of horrifying details about this case from emergency workers, but the only details we can confirm are that a case of extreme abuse was discovered and the child was flown to Tulsa due to the severity of the injuries.

The child is reportedly 6. We are now hearing the child is around age 4.

The mother of the child has reportedly been arrested. We have an identity on the mother, but until we can confirm it, we are withholding it. The police call was to 2400 S. Cherokee at 8 p.m. yesterday.

We are pursuing this case and will provide details as they become available.

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 1:19 PM

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Weather exposes a good problem to have

Over the last few days since we’ve added the weather forecast to the front page here, you may have noticed weird and cryptic error messages in that space.

The messages were because we surpassed the amount of requests we were supposed to be making per day to the weather service we had subscribed to.

We were allotted 40,000 requests per day, and we surpassed that by afternoon each day. That means, once 40,000 people viewed this page, the weather service started rejecting requests for weather information.

We initially planned to upgrade our subscription to allow 60,000 requests per day, but there are days during the week where our readership spikes past that, so we decided instead to investigate other options.

After a frantic night of programming, we are now displaying weather that we’re getting from the National Weather Service, caching every 30 10 minutes, which should cause the page to load consistently faster, since it’s not requesting information from the National Weather Service every time someone views the page.

If none of that made sense, it’s simply a matter of more reliable weather information displayed much faster.

All that said, it was a good problem to have: too many people trying to read our site. Thank you for being part of the problem!

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 10:48 AM

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