DA Rules Fatal Bethany Officer-Involved Shooting As Justified

Tuesday, April 25th 2017, 12:19 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has ruled a Feb. 10 fatal officer-involved shooting as "reasonable and lawful."

Bethany officers were investigating a domestic assault and injury in the 8300 block of NW 36 Terrace when James McMullen answered the door while carrying a handgun. Officers said they ordered McMullen to drop the weapon several times, but McMullen did not. 

Deeming the situation to be a life-endangering threat, officer Matt Branscum then fired several rounds which hit McMullen. Police at the scene provided medical aid and McMullen was taken to a local hospital where he later died

"I do not find Officer Branscum's use of deadly force to be unreasonable at the moment he made the decision to fire," Prater said in a letter to the Bethany police chief. "Probable cause to charge Officer Branscum with a criminal act does not exist."

While Prater determined the shooting as lawful, he questioned the tactical decisions made by officers at the scene prior to the confrontation.

"Though I find no violation of state or federal law regarding the use of deadly force by Officer Branscum, the responding officers, most notably the supervisors on the scene, could have employed well established tactics to lessen the probability that a deadly force incident would result," Prater said in the letter.

In the letter, Prater detailed ways a deadly force encounter could have been avoided including changes in positioning when officers approached McMullen.

"I have determined that tactical decisions made by officers in this matter increased the likelihood that a shooting would occur," he said in the letter.

Branscum who has been on routine paid administrative leave during the investigation is expected to return to full duty in the next few days.