Jul. 17—Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn has declined to file charges in a June road rage incident, his office confirmed Friday.
The June 15 incident involved a man who called Norman police, claiming Steven Bomar, 26, of Norman, had pulled a gun on him and his girlfriend while they were at a stoplight.
The NPD submitted a report to the DA's office for filing a false police report. Law enforcement has not publicly identified the callers to the media.
"The Norman Police Department did submit their report regarding that investigation, and we declined to file charges because we felt that we did not have sufficient evidence to prove our case in court, as that is our foremost priority in filing charges in hopes of acquiring a conviction," Cleveland County Assistant District Attorney Travis White said.
Council member: DA decision a 'shame'
Ward 1 Brandi Studley, who serves as Bomar's councilmember, said the decision not to file charges against the callers is a "shame" and unsurprising.
"We have an opportunity here to set the tone that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," she said. "A man could have died. If Mr. Bomar made one wrong move with his hands or became very upset, which he had every right to, he could have been shot.
"Unfortunately, I am not surprised at this DA's response or lack thereof, given his history that seems to go against people of color and their rights."
Studley said Mashburn is up for reelection in 2022.
"It's time for a change from the good 'ole boy system," she said.
Bomar's memories of June 15 are different from what the caller told police.
Bomar said he had just been through the drive-thru at the Carl's Jr. on 24th Avenue NW and Robinson Street. As he made a right turn on 24th Avenue, he noticed a man and a woman in a blue Nissan Armada speed past him.
"They started carrying on, but I didn't really pay them any attention," he said. "I just kind of turned my music up and just chuckled at them, thinking 'you all are ignorant.'"
Bomar, who is Black, said the people in the car cut him off, gave him the middle finger and called him the n-word.
He then pulled into the OnCue at Flood Avenue and Tecumseh Road to put gas in his car. That's when he saw police officers approaching him with guns drawn and yelling commands.
"I told them that I was scared, and I wanted to comply," Bomar said. "The one over my left shoulder came over and told me that he was going to let me know what was happening. He told me it was concerning road rage.
"I asked him if it was about those people that cut me off. I was confused because they were the ones who had the road rage. I didn't honk. I didn't flash any hand signs to anybody, or anything else."
Bomar gave the officers permission to search his vehicle, where they found no gun and no evidence a gun had been in the vehicle.
"All they found were two strollers and a movie," he said.
Bomar said this was not the first experience like this he's had with Norman police — he found himself in a similar situation when he was 15 years old.
"I was on a date with a girl who was 16, and she drove us to Hollywood theater after we ate at Waffle House," he said. "On our way back to my grandmother's house, the police pulled us over. They pulled me out of the car and had me on the ground with their guns pointed at me."
Evidently, police were looking for someone who looked like Bomar who was wanted in connection to a chain of bank robberies, he said. Officers only let him go when they were told the actual suspect had cut their hair, Bomar said.
Bomar claims double standard
Bomar said he is not mad at the officers, but he would like to see everybody treated the same in the situation he found himself in last month.
He said if he were not Black, the situation would have been different.
"I honestly believe that if a white person had called on another white person saying they were waving a gun, I believe the cops would have pulled that person over, walked to their car, asked him if he had a gun, without their guns drawn," he said. "The police said that it's standard protocol — I believe that to be true if the color of your skin is mine."
Following standard protocol
NPD Public Information Officer Sarah Jensen told The Black Wall Street Times, who first reported on the incident, that the NPD's response to Bomar "is standard response protocol on a report of an individual feloniously pointing a firearm at another individual(s)."
She told The Transcript it's a statement the department still stands by, as it has been a long-standing department procedure.
"The officer's response is determined by the information that's provided through dispatching when we receive information that an individual either has a firearm or is actively utilizing a firearm to threaten another individual," she said. "We respond in that manner because we know from incidents of road rage or incidents of people making threats in that manner, that it can escalate quickly. We will respond in that manner when there is a gun, or another weapon involved."
The Transcript has filed an open records request for body camera footage from 21 road rage incidents involving a firearm over the last few months; reporters will review NPD officers' protocol and actions in each incident. Due to the size of the request, the department has not provided an exact date when that request will be completed.