It’s Finally Over! Court of Appeals Rules 5-0 For Oklahoma Police Lt. John Mitchell

It’s Finally Over! Court of Appeals Rules 5-0 For Oklahoma Police Lt. John Mitchell

By Steve Pomper

God willing, this should be the NPA’s final follow-up article on the persecution of decorated Blackwell (OK) Police Department Lieutenant John Mitchell. First, a brief recap: On May 20th, 2019, Lt. Mitchell ended a mobile active shooter incident after being forced, along with another officer, to shoot and kill the female driver to stop her rampage. The woman had been driving around town, shooting at things, buildings, and people, including her mother and police officers.

Through a bunch of twists and turns you can read about in the original story and many follow-ups linked below, Lt. Mitchell and his family have endured a virtual siege on his life perpetrated by a vile prosecutor whom, it appears, didn’t like how many shots were fired to stop the shooter. However, as cops know, it takes as much time, as many cops, and as many shots as it takes. It’s up to the suspect to stop shooting, drop the weapon, and surrender. Unfortunately for the suspect, she chose not to do those things that early morning.

But Oklahoma District #6 District Attorney Jason Hicks, as I wrote in my original reporting, “didn’t see the lieutenant’s actions the same way the people trained to do the job see it. Or even the way the average person sees it. After Lt. Mitchell had already been cleared of wrongdoing and after inexplicably vacillating for over six months, Hicks brought the case to a grand jury, which indicted Lt. Mitchell—for murder.” Eventually, though still ridiculous, a court reduced the charge to manslaughter.

Fortunately, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with a lower court ruling that subsequently threw out the case against the hero cop. The previously mentioned “vile prosecutor” appealed—which he lost.

This drama could have—should have—have ended so many times, including after the original inquiry by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI) cleared Mitchell and after a Kay County judge tossed the case, saying Lt. Mitchell had not used unreasonable force.

According to News 9 Oklahoma City, “The appeals court ruled a police officer could continue to use deadly force until the threat was stopped, and a prosecutor must prove if excessive force was used. A ruling nearly four years in the making.”

News 9 reported the ruling hadn’t been published at the time, but they learned part of the ruling read, “the preliminary hearing evidence coincides not with guilt but solely with innocence,” which James says vindicates Lt. Mitchell. Yes, it does.

“‘The court was very strong in John Mitchell’s ruling,’ Gary James, an [Mitchell’s] attorney, said. ‘It has done a lot of good for police officers.’” 

James also represents some Oklahoma City and Village cops who have been similarly criminally charged “for three deadly shootings that happened in 2020.” James believes this ruling will impact those cases. The officers “remain on paid administrative leave.”  

Since 2019, some numbers tell the story: Over four years: That’s how long it’s been since that fateful early morning when Lt. Mitchell risked his life for the good people of Blackwell he’s sworn to protect. You can use that four years to multiply how many Christmases, Easters, birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events (Lt. Mitchell is a youth football coach), and other celebrations with family and friends he’s tried to enjoy under this undeserved dark cloud.

And over a dozen articles of support written by the NPA to keep people apprised of Lt. Mitchell’s slog through a misuse of the criminal justice system to punish a good cop for doing the difficult job his community expects of him and for making decisions under fire that no prosecutor has to make. 

On a personal note, I’ve marveled at how John has handled this trial. With a solid support system of family, friends, co-workers, and supportive active and retired cops from around the nation along with his unwavering faith, this cop has demonstrated how to handle even persecution with dignity and more class than his persecutor deserved.

Finally, it has been a pleasure getting to know, even a little bit, John, some of his friends and family members, and his able attorney. It has also been a pleasure to be able to support John, even if only to help people stay informed through the National Police Association articles about this stellar officer’s mistreatment and eventual victory.  

Still, it shouldn’t have taken four years for common sense and justice to prevail.

Below are links to the original NPA article, the various follow-ups, and their approximate dates published at the NPA website:

  1. Dec 2019- Justice for Blackwell PD Lt. John Mitchell
  2. Jan 2020- Blackwell PD Lt. John Mitchell Still Charged with Murder Update.
  3. Feb 2020- Judge Drops Murder Charge Still Sends Cop to Trial for Manslaughter for Stopping Active Shooter
  4. Mar 2020- The Lt. John Mitchell Saga Continues. Latest Update
  5. Apr 2020- Oklahoma Cop Persecuted for Killing Active Shooter Still Awaiting Justice
  6. May 2020- Judge to Rule on Motion to Quash Manslaughter Charges Against a Police Lieutenant Who Stopped an Active Shooter in 2019
  7. June 2020- Hypocrite District Attorney Heaps Praise on Cops While He Prosecutes One for Stopping an Active Shooter. How Does That Work?
  8. July 2020- Back the Blue: Keep Lt. John Mitchell in Your Thoughts and Prayers
  9. Aug 2020- Cop Who Stopped Active Shooter Still Battling DA in Court
  10. Dec 2020- Will Lt. John Mitchell Suffer Through Yet Another Christmas with an Undeserved Criminal Charge Hanging Over His Head?
  11. Apr 2021- Oklahoma Police Lt. John Mitchell Still Awaiting Decision for 2019 Active Shooter Incident
  12. Aug 2021- Lt John Mitchell Survives Being Dragged Through the Anti-Police Muck
  13. Dec 2022- Follow Up on Lt. John Mitchell’s Never-Ending Court Case Fiasco

*Sep 2021 (related story)- Another Oklahoma Police Officer Charged, Not Charged, Then Charged Again