The elderly Tulsa reserve deputy charged with manslaughter went on national television recently and dropped a bombshell. The thing is, no one noticed it was a bombshell at the time.
But in a moment that went unremarked on air, Bates also named former deputy Warren Cole Crittenden, a 44-year-old accused murderer, as his supervisor during his training. “I have a piece of paper by Mr. Warren Crittenden—[he’s] now in jail for first-degree murder 40 miles east of here, in Mayes County—signed off to say I’d done a good job,” Bates said.
Bates’s potentially poor preparation for his reserve duties has generated almost as much controversy as his shooting of Harris.
On Wednesday evening, CBS News reported that in 2009 an internal investigation was opened to determine if Bates’s superiors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) were soft on him because they were leaned on by brass. The outcome of that report, according to CBS News, suggests they were. On Tuesday, Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz acknowledged the inquiry into Bates by then-Undersheriff Brian Edwards before a pool of reporters but said he believed “they found there was no special treatment.”
Lawyers for the late Harris, whom Bates killed when he accidentally reached for his gun instead of his Taser, sent out a statement saying the 44-year-old victim would be alive today were it not for the cronyism in the sheriff’s office.
“Bob Bates was not adequately trained, TCSO acted to cover this up, and TCSO knowingly and dangerously allowed an undertrained and underqualified 73-year-old insurance executive to play cop,” the lawyers said.
Now it turns out the man who OKed Bates’s preparation—the man who gave Bates the go-ahead to become a reserve deputy—has himself been indicted for taking a life.
The morning of Bates’s April 17 Today show interview, The Daily Beast published a profile of Crittenden, who was once a promising pro wrestler and in the ring grappled under the avatars “The Real Deal,” “The Masked Outlaw,” and “The Cooler,” not to mention “Super Invader” and “Super Destroyer II.”
The son of a police chief, Crittenden went on to become a Tulsa deputy—only to be terminated in 2011. He is now behind bars charged with first-degree murder, awaiting trial for a deadly January shoot ’em up at a Super 8 Motel that left 33-year-old Michael Jones, a wanted pimp, pumped full of lead.
The Daily Beast has learned more details about the January 27 killing.
With two out-of-town escorts he’d been advertising online, Jones tried to make a play for a 27-year-old woman named Pamela Taylor, whom he met at the Hard Rock Cafe & Casino. They left together for the Super 8 motel. Once inside Room 228, Jones gave Taylor $20 and “demanded sexual favors,” but Taylor “rebuffed” him, and Jones turned hostile, forcing her to run, according to a police report.
Then she called for help, and Crittenden, along with a trio of thugs, stormed the room to “rough up” Jones. The fight led to gunfire, and Jones was fatally shot in the chest, according to police.
The Daily Beast has spoken to a man who says he was on the phone with Crittenden an hour before the bloodshed.
“That morning I call him, and he sounded weird as f--k,” the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Beast. “He started speaking Carny [also known as Ciazarn, a tongue spoken by old-school wrestlers]: ‘Chizlevel bizzad.’” Meaning: Trouble bad! Something is up.
“We’re all outlaws,” the friend said, “and when you start talking Carny, you’re talking so they can’t figure out what it is.”
Then his friend heard a man scream at Crittenden: “Hang up that motherf--king phone. You’re with us.”
Click. The phone call dropped.
The friend said that shortly afterward he spoke to Crittenden again and the monstrous persona was quieter than a mouse: “‘I’ve done some s--t,’ he tells me.”
Only later did the friend learn that Crittenden had been picked up by the police. The one-time wrestler was busted after rear-ending another car in his white 2006 Ford F-150.
The friend, who says he has since visited Crittenden in jail, said he believes that the former deputy was trying to do the right thing before Jones was shot. Crittenden, he said, was planning to go to the police to confess that he was forced at gunpoint to commit a shakedown of the rival pimp. “There’s no way he would have been part of this, especially over some rent-a-p---y. It’s ridiculous,” the friend said.
But Tulsa Police Department Sergeant David Walker says investigators aren’t buying Crittenden’s hostage story. “He told us the same thing,” Walker said. And attempting to hightail it to the police station? “This flies in the face of what we looked at,” he said. “He can claim whatever he wants.”
Meanwhile, Crittenden’s name is now forever associated with 73-year-old former insurance executive and reserve deputy Robert Bates.
That connection began to creep out into the public three days before the Today show interview. In a heavily redacted affidavit, an anonymous source accused the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office of committing “a conspiracy” to “falsify the field training records of Mr. Bates.”
Reporters—including this one—suspected that Crittenden was the anonymous source. But until Bates’s Today show interview, there was no proof.
In a sworn statement from behind bars, Crittenden said he was “ordered…to sign off on official field training records which falsely stated that Mr. Bates had received training that we knew never took place.”
For Crittenden, the affidavit may have been a measure of revenge on the Tulsa County sheriff's department. He’s suing the department for firing him without cause.
Crittenden claims he flunked multiple polygraph tests and was punished for his workers’ compensation claims for back problems and PTSD.
But the real reason for his departure, according to the department, stems from an investigation into his alleged propensity for prostitutes. While “in uniform,” he allegedly trysted with an exotic dancer more than 15 times. The price: $100 to $300 a twirl.
At the heart of the allegations was a probe launched by internal affairs in 2010. A tipster identified Crittenden as a deputy who was using the services of prostitutes and even “[having sex] once in the back seat of his squad car” with a dancer from The Foxx Hole, a local adult club.
Crittenden denies paying for sex several times in sworn testimony obtained by The Daily Beast. But he did admit to having a penchant for bedding exotic dancers at various motels—some whom he knew only by stage names and others he completely blanked on.
But when asked about the various stripper conquests, Crittenden said he frequented The Foxx Hole because “I actually had somebody that was an informant that worked there from time to time that would give me information of people selling drugs.”
And the romances with the babes were all innocent, he said. “Most all the girls, with the exception of one, I didn’t know that they worked at strip bars. I met them at regular bars,” Crittenden said. “One girl I met at Wal-Mart.”
At one point Crittenden said he took a stand against rubber-stamping a potential female reserve deputy. (Bates’s name is never mentioned.) “We was field training people, a person, that everybody was in agreeance…that she didn’t need to be deputy,” he said. “I’m the only one that filled out the paperwork for this person not to become a deputy because they exhibited behaviors that shouldn’t be out in the field.”
He went on to say how critical his role was as a field training officer. “To me as [a field training officer], you’re responsible for that officer,” said Crittenden. “If you let that down, not only are you letting the citizens down that you’re training them for, you’re letting your department down. And not just that you’re putting yourself at a liability if they come out and got out and then become an officer on the street.”
Beyond the details of Crittenden’s lower back woes, there’s his PTSD diagnosis.
In 2006, Crittenden, who is the father of an autistic teenage son and a young daughter he’s never met, says he had come home to find intruders in his apartment. His gun and cash were intact, he says, but he went outside and squared off with the group of ruffians.
One of them told the deputy he “hated cops” and was “going to kill me.” He came at Crittenden with a pistol. “[He] walked toward me pointing a small revolver pistol at me, and I reached for my weapon in the small of my back, but I had left it in my apartment,” Crittenden wrote in a journal that was part of the civil court papers.
Unarmed and feeling like his life was at stake, Crittenden relied on his wits. “He went to pull the trigger of his weapon three times at me [sic] each time just before the gun went off I used ‘verbal judo’ to distract the suspect where I could run for cover,” he wrote.
He later gave sworn testimony that his “verbal judo” consisted of telling the armed cop hater: “Hey, hey, whoa, whoa. You don’t want to shoot me. What are you going to shoot me for, anyway?”
Tulsa police were called, though apparently not because Crittenden had a gun pulled on him. One of the alleged intruders had accused the deputy of making “unwanted sexual advances” to a woman in the group.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Crittenden tossed that allegation aside and said the woman whipped up the unwanted sexual overtures out of fear. “They was scared that they was going to get in trouble over the gun incident, so they did all this to to cover themselves,” he testified.
From then on, Crittenden said, he was popping Paxil pills prescribed to him by doctors he couldn’t remember and working construction jobs while serving as a reservist at the Depew Police Department. His murder trial is set to begin on May 1, records show.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Stanley Glanz fielded questions in a press conference and teared up when asked if the recent drama would compel him to resign. “I have priorities in my life,” he said. “First to my god, second to my family, and third is being sheriff.”
Ground has already been broken for a new training center named in Glanz’s honor.
The sheriff said his department has been cleared recently by both the FBI and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. But he added that he has temporarily shut down the drug task force to which reservist Bates was assigned and may reconsider keeping septuagenarians on its roster. “I think we will be reviewing national standards for age,” he said.
Asked about his cozy ties to Bates and other boosters, Glanz said he is proud of their stewardship. “I have a lot of people that dedicate a lot of time and effort to this office and in the community, and I’m not ashamed of that,” he said.
As the sheriff fends off the media blitz and lets Bates’s criminal case run its course, the feds are keeping a close eye, a Department of Justice spokeswoman confirmed.
“The Department of Justice continues to closely monitor the local investigation into the incident, as we have since the beginning,” she said.