Talk-radio listeners all over the nation have been expressing concern over the police raid that went bad in this rural town near the Arkansas border. But authorities in the town aren't talking.
At 7:05 a.m. last Friday, police in Sallisaw, a town of only 6,500, shot Patricia Eymer, 32, in her home while she held her 4-year-old daughter. An infant was only a few feet away, and a 13-year-old daughter passed out in fear
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Since then the police, and virtually all official agencies, have refused to provide any details. The victims are saying a cover-up is in progress.
Neighbors and residents have expressed shock over the attack, but not surprise. They say they have learned not to trust their local police. Talk-radio hosts and listeners around the country have been talking about the issue of police abuse since the original story broke in WorldNetDaily Tuesday.
Despite the criticisms being raised, the Sallisaw Police Department, the Sequoyah County sheriff's office, the district attorney, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation have all refused to provide information to WorldNetDaily. Repeated and frequent attempts for three days have resulted in refusals and what could only be characterized as deliberate and systematic stonewalling to prevent the American public from learning what happened.
A written request for documents and information pertaining to the case was sent by WorldNetDaily to John R. Montgomery, Sallisaw city attorney Wednesday. He responded with a faxed letter late in the day.
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"The chief of police, assistant chief of police, or any other official within the City of Sallisaw, has no authority to require an officer to give you an interview or a statement. As far as I am concerned, you are welcome to talk to any member of the Sallisaw Police Department. However, no police officer has a duty to talk to new reporters," said Montgomery in his letter.
Although the county clerk was willing to provide faxed information to this reporter, Montgomery was not willing to do the same with police records. He offered to provide records for inspection during business hours.
"Although much of the law enforcement records are exempt from the
Open Records Act, those records that are not exempt are open in
accordance with the law," he said in his letter. A dispatcher said
the only record that could be released was a news release provided
by the OSBI, which gave no names or details. The release did say
that all people in the house at the time of the raid were charged
with "possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of
marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and use of a police
radio in the commission of a felony."
Mrs. Eymer says she has not been charged, however. The evidence
listed in the court records does not identify any "controlled
dangerous substance" or marijuana. Police would not comment on the
The search for official information was met with avoidance, passing
the buck from agency to agency, and blatant refusal to provide what
should be public information. Good-old-boy protectionism runs strong
in this little town, according to residents who were interviewed, as
well as local journalists -- none wished to be identified.
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"They're only a couple blocks away, if you know what I mean," said a
reporter at the Sequoyah Times, a twice-weekly county paper.
When it became obvious that messages to various officers were not getting through, an attempt was made to fax a message to them. The police dispatcher was asked for the fax number, but then their fax machine failed to answer the rest of the morning, even though additional calls were made to verify the number. The woman dispatcher insisted that the machine was turned on.
Initially court officials denied the existence of a search warrant, but on Wednesday the Sequoyah County Court Clerk faxed a copy of the search warrant and the results of that search. A review of the documents revealed a glaring error on the part of the police. The search warrant required a search "in the daytime," and did not authorize police to go in without knocking.
The search warrant was obtained by Det. Larry Blount. Officers who obtained evidence included Dawn Jerman, Freeman (no first name), and Travis Holman. A dispatcher said that there is no officer by the name of Travis Holman, and he would not say how that name appeared on the list of seized documents. It was also learned from witness James Hinkle that one of the officers present was David Bethany, who is credited with saving the life of Mrs. Eymer.
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Sunrise on Oct. 23 was at 7:50 a.m. The police forced their way into the mobile home of Steve and Pat Eymer at 7:05 a.m. Witnesses all confirmed that police banged on the flimsy door until it opened and they rushed in with guns drawn.
The warrant states "probable cause" was shown by Det. Larry Blount that there was evidence at the Eymer home that would result in a charge of "unlawful possession and/or distribution of controlled dangerous substances." Specifically, the warrant authorized a search for methamphetamine and the items associated with its manufacture and sale.
The evidence list provided by the court reveals that no such evidence was found. No explanation has been offered for why the police took many of the items into evidence:
- a small document safe with personal papers
- a police scanner
- a paper listing police frequencies
- a pager
- a driver's license and insurance card
- an air compressor
- an empty glass jar
- plastic rubber tube and connector
- camouflage jacket
- a 22-caliber rifle found on a closet shelf
The next list contained some evidence that there had been drug use in the home, but no drugs were found. There were no items found that are typically used in the manufacture of drugs, and there was no money found. The Eymers do not deny that they have used marijuana occasionally in the past, but they insist there was none in the house and they don't sell it.
The fact that they live in a very modest single-wide mobile home with no telephone is evidence of their income level, according to Martha Smyrl, mother of Mrs. Eymer. Both cars owned by the Eymers are in need of repair, and Mr. Eymer, 34, has only a low-paying job repairing lawn-mower engines, according to Ken Smyrl. If the Eymers were making money selling drugs, their relatives say they would most certainly upgrade their living conditions.
Some empty plastic baggies, three unidentified pills, and an empty pipe were found in the car belonging to Hinkle's girlfriend, Tammy Bedwell, who had arrived with Hinkle a few minutes before the raid. They wanted to borrow some money to go looking for a job, then planned to go fishing, according to Hinkle, a cousin of Mrs. Eymer.
Several empty plastic baggies and a mirror were found in the house, which the police say had residue on them. The Eymers did not offer an explanation for these. Several "smoking devices" were found hidden in bedrooms. Mrs. Smyrl says a "young boy" was staying with them from time to time and admitted to her that the items were his, although he was not there at the time of the raid. She did not wish to identify the young boy.
Mrs. Smyrl also accused police of violating the search warrant by coming into the house by force, and because they did not perform the search during daylight hours. She was angry that her daughter was shot for no apparent reason. She said there was no justifiable reason for police to take the action they did.
"Nobody opened the door," she said in a phone interview. "That officer was standing there looking eyeball to eyeball, and he shot her." She also complained that her grandchildren were unnecessarily placed in harm's way.
When police entered the home they ordered everyone to "freeze" and to "hit the floor." Mrs. Eymer was in the bedroom with her 4-year-old daughter Casey. She says she held on to her child and shouted "I'm coming out and I'm unarmed."
Everyone in the house complied with the police demands without resistance. There were no weapons in the possession of anyone, other than the police who all had pistols drawn.
Hinkle had been kicked to the floor and handcuffed when Mrs. Eymer came out. He looked up and says he saw the officer who kicked him down walk quickly toward Mrs. Eymer and shoot with no warning. Another officer, reported to be David Bethany (unconfirmed by police), said "Whoa," and grabbed the hands of the unidentified officer and thrust them towards the ceiling to avoid further shooting.
Hinkle said he watched the entire incident and could not see any provocation or sudden movement by Mrs. Eymer that would justify being shot. A dispatcher in the Sallisaw Police Department claimed it was an accident, and called the initial report by WorldNetDaily a "crock." He would not identify himself.
Police would not permit the ambulance with Mrs. Eymer inside to leave for the hospital, according to Hinkle. The police first took the others to jail and booked them, then returned to escort the ambulance 20 miles to the hospital in Ft. Smith, AR. No explanation was offered for the delay because police refused to respond to requests for information.
School children who witnessed shootings in their schools have been provided with counseling to help them deal with the trauma, and Mrs. Smyrl wonders if any help is being given to her grandchildren. She has only been able to see them once, and only for a short time during a court appearance on Monday morning.
"The 5-year-old, when I seen her in court, she came running to me and said, 'Grandma I want to come home with you.' She said, 'Grandma, Mama's been shot.' I told her, I said, 'Honey, Mama's OK. She's doing fine. I had to keep her calm," explained Mrs. Smyrl.
The children have been taken by child protection services and no one has been told where they are been kept, or what help they are being provided. The grandparents are astonished that they are not able to comfort the children.
"They won't tell us nothing about the kids," said Mrs. Smyrl. "They wouldn't tell me where they were at. I couldn't see them. I'm their grandmother. I practically helped raise these kids. This is what I don't understand."
Child protective services refused to provide any information about the children to WorldNetDaily and would not explain why the grandparents have not been given custody.
Mr. Smyrl said he was told that Oklahoma would not give custody to relatives who live out of state. The Smyrls live in Texas. After Mrs. Smyrl began looking for a place to rent, she was told the only place acceptable for her to have the children would be in Sallisaw.
The Eymers offered to deed their home over to the Smyrls and move out in order to permit the Smyrls to care for the children in a home they are comfortable in. The Smyrls were told by child protective services this would not be acceptable because of "all the coming and going there."
Mr. Eymer says the traumatic experience the children went through, and the lack of contact with family members is a form of child abuse.
Mrs. Eymer was released from the hospital on Tuesday. She was shot at close range in the right shoulder by a 45-caliber hollow point bullet. Doctors say the upper arm and shoulder bone are destroyed, according to Mrs. Smyrl.
"I've got to keep a pretty close eye on her," says Mrs. Smyrl. "She could lose her arm. She doesn't have a socket. All of that's gone. The doctor thought about replacing the shoulder bone, but he said that there was no way to reconstruct it because there's no bone. That's all gone. If this don't heal right he can't do anything. Her arm will have to come off.
"By the grace of God she wasn't dead. They don't shoot to wound," she said of the police. She then accused all the various agencies of covering up for each other.
Hinkle and the Eymers don't claim to be saints. They admit to social drug use occasionally.
"We ain't crooks or nothing like that," said Mr. Eymer on Tuesday after being released from jail on bail. "We ain't no big time drug dealers. Weekend party or whatever. It ain't no big deal. They're trying to turn it into we're big time drug dealers."
He said there have been no drugs sold from his home, and no drug dealers working from there. Asked if there were any drugs in his home he said, "No, they didn't find any. We didn't have anything."
Someone cleaned up the blood on the floor in the house, and removed blood stained wallpaper from the walls. Hinkle and the Eymers accused police of destroying evidence. Mrs. Eymer complained that her car had been ruined.
"They demolished my car. My car is pretty messed up. My car won't run. The transmission's out of it. We just had it sitting up on blocks. They went in and tore up all the interior and everything."
Another man was in the house at the time of the incident, and police have refused to provide information about him.
Hinkle says he let an African American man into the house just after he had arrived himself. The man said he was a friend of the Eymers, so Hinkle let him in and sat with him in the kitchen for a few minutes. The man said his name was Sales, but he didn't carry on a conversation.
Just before the police entered the house, Sales moved to the area where Mrs. Eymer was. As the police came in he hit the floor in front of Mrs. Eymer, blocking the hallway where she was standing and providing no place for her to go, according to Hinkle.
Mrs. Eymer said she had only met Sales the day before for just a few minutes and had no idea who he was or what he was doing. She said she did not expect to see him that morning, and she didn't know why he came over toward her.
Hinkle said that Sales did not say anything prior to the raid or in the police car after he was arrested. When he was being booked at the police station, Hinkle noticed that Sales wrote his name on some paperwork as Dwayne or Dwight Malcolm.
Whoever he was, he has now vanished. He was out of jail within an hour, according to Hinkle, and police have no comment. Hinkle believes he helped the police set up the raid.
The Eymers have hired personal injury attorney Dan George from Tulsa, OK, to represent them in a civil lawsuit. George has refused to comment and has not returned the many calls made to his office by WorldNetDaily. The Eymers have been told to stop talking to the press.