Investigators Rule Guthrie Officer-Involved Shooting Was Justified
GUTHRIE, Oklahoma - Back on March 31, Guthrie Police Officer Caleb Pinley reported seeing 27-year old Jason Birt standing outside a home on S. Walnut Street with a knife. He also said there was a female victim nearby by who appeared to be in danger. Within moments, Officer Pinley fired his gun and killed Jason Birt.
Since that time, OSBI investigated and has since ruled the use of deadly force to be justified.
Monday, May 2, the officer’s body camera footage was released showing the shooting.
“The OSBI I think early last week submitted the report to the district attorney and then Friday I believe she issued a statement saying that she found no unlawful force,” said Guthrie Police Chief Don Sweger.
But now, the female victim in this case says more could have been done to prevent the loss of life. That victim is Birt’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel Long. The two share a child together. Long also said they were previously in a relationship for six years.
“He shouldn't be dead. He should still be here with us,” said Long.
The two did have a history involving law enforcement. Long said in September of 2017, officers came to her home after Birt kicked-in the door, but there had only been a scuffle. Long initially filed a VPO, but said she later asked for it to be dismissed.
Long said on the night of Jason’s death, he had followed her and her boyfriend home. When they pulled into the driveway, Long said she got out of the car to prevent any type violence.
There were reports Long had been cut by Birt’s knife, but she said that’s because she accidently grabbed it.
“I did not know what it was at the time, and I was even more shocked that that's what I grabbed,” said Long.
Soon after, Officer Pinley arrived at the home sometime around 7:00 p.m. The department reported that Pinley was traveling to another unrelated call, but he pulled over to help the victim who he saw in distress.
Pinley ordered Birt to drop the weapon, but when Birt refused, Officer Pinley shot and killed him.
Police also reported Rachel Long was being physically assaulted by Birt. But Long said that’s not true.
“I feel like there could have been a lot more done,” said Long. “I don't blame him for what he did. I don't know what was going on in his mind. I just know what he was trying to do was try and save me.”
She said Birt was a great father, but now she must raise their daughter alone.
Caleb Pinley is back from administrative leave. He has been with the department since 2015. The chief said Pinley also has previous experience in the military.
This is the first reported officer-involved shooting in Guthrie in a few years.