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Oklahoma officer surrenders, jailed for striking motorist with butt of shotgun

By Doug G. Ware

OWASSO, Okla., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- An Oklahoma police officer turned himself in Monday for allegedly striking a motorist with the butt end of a shotgun following a high-speed chase in June, authorities said.

Owasso, Okla., police Lt. Michael Dwain Denton faces charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and reckless conduct with a firearm, stemming from the arrest of Cody Mathews on June 14, Tulsa World reported.

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Denton's surrender comes after the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training concluded that such use of a shotgun on a suspect is not consistent with its teachings.

After his court appearance, Denton was jailed and released on a $5,000 bond.

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Court documents indicate Denton struck Mathews with the butt of the shotgun as the suspect sat in the front seat of his vehicle after the pursuit ended. The gun also struck officer Cheyenne Lee as she attempted to handcuff Mathews inside the vehicle.

The court documents also say Denton, 49, continued to hit Mathews with the shotgun even after he was removed from his truck.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation asked law enforcement training experts whether hitting a subject with the butt of a gun is an accepted method of de-escalating a terse situation. They said the tactic is not taught to police officers and constitutes deadly force in a scenario they believe did not call for such a police response.

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Mathews dropped a knife he held to his own throat after the chase, according to video evidence, officials said. Two other police officers at the scene told investigators Denton should have seen that Mathews was no longer holding the knife prior to striking him with the shotgun.

Denton could ultimately be fired for the incident, depending on the conclusions of investigators. He was previously fired in 2011 for another reported incident that officials said violated the agency's use-of-force policy.

An arbitrator later reinstated Denton to the police force and the city of Owasso ultimately paid him more than $365,000 stemming from the firing.

Denton was suspended with pay in June following the incident.

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