Wrongful death suit filed in July 2019 pursuit death

Derrick James, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·3 min read

Apr. 9—The family of a McAlester man who was shot and killed by law enforcement during a July 2019 pursuit has filed a wrongful death suit.

Mark Anson Schoggins, 35, was fatally shot July 17, 2019 by Oklahoma State Highway Patrol Troopers during a pursuit that ended at the intersection of South Third Street and South Avenue in McAlester.

Local attorney Warren Gotcher filed the suit Thursday in Pittsburg County District Court on behalf of Mark Schoggins, the father and personal representative of the estate of Mark Anson Schoggins.

The suit names the state of Oklahoma/Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the city of McAlester, and OHP Troopers Garret Gray and James McKee in their individual capacity, claiming the parties violated the constitutional rights of Mark Anson Schoggins which resulted in his death.

District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan justified the shooting in September 2019 stating "Mark Schoggins had more than 10 opportunities to prevent this tragedy from occurring and refused every time; each time he did so, he put the officers and public at risk."

On July 17, 2019, Mark Anson Schoggins was accused of stealing vodka from a local liquor "which is a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law" before a McAlester police officer "proceeded to try to stop the vehicle without cause when the said vehicle left."

"The officers gave pursuit for a misdemeanor violation and asked for assistance from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol," the suit states.

Police pursued Mark Anson Schoggins south of McAlester before OHP Troopers took the lead as the chase returned north towards McAlester city limits.

"The car in which the deceased was travelling then was chased at high speeds by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the suit states. "The deceased crashed his car twice in a driveway on South Street in McAlester while the Highway Patrol was in pursuit."

Sullivan said after Mark Anson Schoggins struck troopers in their vehicles with his large SUV, he attempted to run over Trooper Gray and struck Gray's body before Gray and McKee opened fire.

"It is my conclusion that this was an appropriate use of lethal force and no charges should be filed," Sullivan said in his September 2019 statement.

The suit states "the deceased got his vehicle back on the street, but appeared dazed and the car is barely moving, to such a slow extent one trooper was able to open the door next to where the deceased was sitting."

Gotcher writes in the suit the vehicle was "barely moving and posing no threat to a reasonable officer" before Troopers Gray and McKee "opened fire for approximately 4.5 seconds expending approximately 13 rounds into the body and vehicle of Mark Anson Schoggins" and killing the man.

The suit claims the excessive force employed by the defendants named violated the constitutional rights of Mark Anson Schoggins under the Fourth Amendment.

"That the attempted improper arrest by defendant City of McAlester caused the chain of event resulting in the death of Mark Anson Schoggins," the suit states. "That the City of McAlester and the State of Oklahoma failed to properly train their officers in the use of force and arrest procedures. That the failure to train and the resulting actions violated the Constitutional rights of the deceased causing an illegal seizure and excessive force resulting in the loss of his life."

The suit seeks more than $75,000, court costs, and attorney fees for the pain, suffering, and mental anguish to the family of Mark Anson Schoggins and that the family has been damaged in pecuniary loss and "and more importantly grief and loss of companionship of the children and parents."

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com