By Steve Pomper
The NPA has been following the case of Blackwell, Oklahoma police Lieutenant John Mitchell. In early 2019, Lt. Mitchell engaged in a roaming gun battle with an armed active shooter. A woman had been driving her pickup truck around town, shooting at objects and people, including at police. Lt. Mitchell and another officer eventually shot the suspect who died at the scene.
However, the police lieutenant wasn’t universally hailed as a hero, as his co-workers and many in the community had done. After making Lt. Mitchell wait for seven long months, and after other investigations had cleared Lt. Mitchell, a county DA charged Lt. Mitchell with murder. The judge has since dropped the murder charge, but for some inexplicable reason a manslaughter charge remains.
The waiting has felt interminable for Lt. Mitchell. The case has also been extended because of court closures during this CCP virus pandemic. More waiting was the last thing Lt. Mitchell and his family needed. Reportedly, Oklahoma courthouses are scheduled to reopen on May 15th. And now the judge has set a new court date.
Lt. Mitchell announced on Facebook his arraignment is scheduled for May 26th, at 1 p.m., Kay County Courthouse, Newkirk, OK. But the lieutenant had an even better announcement. One that shows how much his police department supports him.
Lt. Mitchell has returned to full-time duty after having been on administrative leave for nearly a year. The Blackwell Police Department offered, and the lieutenant accepted, a position as Communications Supervisor. On the “We Stand by John Mitchell” Facebook page, Lt. Mitchell posted, “I will check reports and answer questions from patrol and work with communications in the station until further notice.”
Hopefully, this new position is just a steppingstone on his path toward resuming full active duty. Lt. Mitchell told the NPA, “Not gonna lie, nice to be back in the mix…” He also said he would do his “best to improve morale in communications.” Though this is a worthy goal, and indicative of the type of cop Lt. Mitchell seems to be, he can best serve his community back on the streets.
Lt. Mitchell seems upbeat about his attorney’s plans for his return to court. Lt. Mitchell was not able to go into details, but he mentioned some evidentiary matters that will shed light on a significant number of troubling issues. A case that has seemed to me, since I began covering this case, the epitome of a DA’s abuse of power.