Oklahoma Cop Killed Mentally Ill Man in Cold Blood
Dashcam footage exclusive to The Daily Beast shows Joshua Stand apparently trying to flee before a cop shot him in the back.
Everyone knew Joshua Stand.
The 35-year-old Oklahoman was a construction worker and ranch hand, a beloved uncle and an avid hunter who preferred the outdoors.
Residents of Delaware—a tiny town 55 miles north of Tulsa—also knew Stand struggled with mental illness.
In June 2014, Stand was released from jail, weeks after being charged with driving under the influence. It was a Friday, and a judge told Stand’s family he’d be committed to a hospital after the weekend.
But before he could get help, Stand was gunned down—shot nine times by the Oklahoma state trooper who originally arrested him.
Two witnesses to the shooting say Stand never charged at the officer during the June 16 encounter, according to a lawsuit filed by Stand’s family on Wednesday.
Rather, they say Stand was running from the officer just before his death, and that his only weapon was a closed pocket knife, the complaint says.
The lawsuit, filed against Trooper Jerrod Martin, alleges Stand died because of the cop’s excessive use of force.
“We want to find out what happened,” Stand’s mother, Peggy, told The Daily Beast. "Josh had problems and wouldn’t take his medicine. But the cops knew, because they picked him up several times before. They were set to pick him up that day, that morning."
“We were just worried he would run away. We weren’t thinking he’d get shot or anything,” she added.
Stand claims Martin only knew her son through his run-ins with the law. According to the lawsuit, Martin “was angry that Mr. Stand had been released from jail.”
“All [Josh] had was a pocket knife, and it wasn’t even open when [Martin] shot him,” Peggy Stand added, citing neighborhood witnesses’ claims in the complaint. “He was using that to clean the fish down by the river. He was an outdoorsy person … he knew how to live off the land.”
For his part, Trooper Martin claimed he feared for his life when he confronted Joshua Stand, according to an August 2014 district attorney’s report clearing him of wrongdoing. He was responding to a 911 call about a knife-wielding man behaving erratically in the street, authorities say.
Capt. Paul Timmons of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol told The Daily Beast he was reserving comment until he saw the lawsuit. E-mails sent to Martin and his family also went unanswered.
Local police haven’t released the 911 call, according to Daniel Smolen, an attorney for Stand family. Smolen said he’s been requesting a recording of the call for months.
Even in the state’s own report on Stand’s death, Martin’s recounting of the episode appears to be at odds with witnesses, who say in the new lawsuit that Stand never attacked the trooper. Dashcam footage—exclusively obtained by The Daily Beast—appears to show Martin chasing after a shirtless and shoeless Stand, who demands to be left alone.
Peggy Stand says her family is still searching for answers.
Her lawsuit comes at a time when Oklahoma law enforcement is under increased scrutiny. In November 2014, the Tulsa World revealed the number of people fatally shot by Oklahoma cops has tripled since 2009. Of the 109 shootings since 2007, 108 were deemed justified by state and county agencies, the paper reported.
Last year, a Washington Post analysis of police shootings showed Oklahoma led the country in fatal police shootings per capita.
The last time Peggy Stand saw her son was in the courtroom, on the day a judge ordered him released from Nowata County jail.
Joshua Stand didn’t go home. Instead, he camped out by the Verdigris River, surviving through fishing and a local grocer’s donations. He told his mom he was tired of civilization and wanted nothing to do with people.
The grocery store gave Stand a fishing pole and some worms, and Peggy Stand’s brother helped him catch some catfish. “They just liked him,” Peggy Stand said. “They knew Josh wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
Peggy Stand said Joshua had schizophrenia. He was admitted to a local hospital in March 2014—his fourth hospitalization for his illness.
The mother assumed her son would return to the hospital on Monday.
But that morning, Trooper Martin passed Stand walking on the side of the Highway 169, just south of the Kansas state line.
Dashcam footage from Martin’s car, released to Peggy Stand’s attorney, shows Martin pulling over on the side of the rural highway, exiting his vehicle and pointing a gun at Stand, who was walking away with his back facing the cop.
“Hey, stop!” Martin yells after exiting his patrol car, gun raised. “Hey, I told you to stop!” Stand, whose back is facing Martin, keeps walking. “Hey! Put the knife down and stop!” Martin orders. “Hey. I’m gonna talk to you! You better stop!”
Stand’s voice is faintly heard on camera, saying, “Leave me the fuck alone.”
The two appear to be at a safe distance apart, then they drift out of view. Seconds later, neighbor Linda Koscelny is heard in the footage, pleading with Martin not to shoot Stand. The cop tells her to get out of the way. The audio on the remainder of the dashcam footage is spotty.
As it turns out, Koscelny wasn’t the only witness. Another neighbor, Charles Hill, also witnessed the fatal foot chase, according to Peggy Stand’s lawsuit. (Descriptions of witnesses appearing to match Koscelny and Hill are mentioned in a district attorney’s report absolving Martin of any crime. In the report, neither of the witnesses mentions anything about Stand waving a knife at Martin.)
Hill was on his porch and holding binoculars when saw Martin chasing Stand with his gun drawn, court papers say.
“Stop, you son of a bitch, or I’m going to shoot you!” Martin allegedly screamed, according to Hill’s account in the new lawsuit. Hill claims he heard Martin threaten to fire on Stand several times, according to the complaint.
Then Hill says he saw the trooper chase Stand into Koscelny’s backyard. Koscelny was outside when she saw Stand running without shirt and shoes. “Get in the house, he’s got a knife!” Trooper Martin told her, according to the lawsuit.
Koscelny “noted that Stand did not appear to have a knife,” the complaint states. According to the lawsuit, Koscelny says she watched the trooper aim his weapon at Stand and pleaded, “Please don’t shoot him, please!”
She later saw Stand brandish a closed pocket knife, but says he was motioning it toward his own chest. Stand was walking backwards, not toward Trooper Martin, Koscelny says in court documents. “Leave me alone,” Stand yelled to the cop, Koscelny recalled. “I’m not going to hurt anyone!”
Hill was looking through his binoculars when he saw the officer fatally blast Stand in the chest, the complaint says.
Moments before, the complaint says, Stand was across the street from the cop, yelling, “I ain’t done nothin’. Leave me alone!” Then the cop fired his gun, the lawsuit claims.
Hill says he never saw Stand charge at or threaten the officer, according to the lawsuit. After seeing Stand shot down, he drove his truck to the scene. When he arrived, the cop was continuing to aim his gun at Stand, who appeared to be dead, according to the complaint.
Stand had gunshot wounds in his chest. A closed pocket knife was next to him on the ground, Hill recalled in court papers.
“Why did you shoot him? Why did you kill him?” asked Koscelny, who rushed to the scene after hearing gunfire. Martin never responded, the lawsuit claims.
Stand was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hours after the fatal shooting, local TV station News on 6 spoke with Koscelny and other neighbors at the crime scene.
“He comes from a very good family,” Koscelny said that day, adding, “It shouldn’t of happened, should of had a different outcome.”
“I run through the house and I come out here … I begged [Martin] not to shoot him. I just begged him not to shoot him. He wasn’t hurt, there were other alternatives,” she added.
The medical examiner ruled Stand’s death a homicide.
According to the autopsy report, Stand died of multiple gunshot wounds—including two that entered his back. One gunshot wound entered his left buttock, the report stated. There were also gunshot wounds in his upper chest, neck, left leg and arms.
The autopsy also indicated Stand had methamphetamine in his system.
Martin still works for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
On August 8, 2014, the district attorney Kevin Buchanan ruled the shooting was justified, and Martin immediately returned to active duty.
“It is undisputed and well documented that Trooper Martin repeatedly requested and/or ordered Joshua Stand to drop the knife,” Buchanan wrote in a letter to Oklahoma Highway Patrol chief Rick Adams.
Yet Buchanan noted one finding of concern: “Three gunshot wounds … appear to have entered Joshua Stand’s body from behind.” He continued, “Trooper Martin does not recall firing any shots” at Stand’s back.
Martin was familiar with Stand and his mental health issues, Buchanan’s letter confirmed.
The officer arrested Stand in April 2014 for driving under the influence of drugs, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and some traffic offenses. He also observed Stand’s erratic behavior at the county jail, the document states.
By the district attorney’s account, Martin radioed Nowata County dispatch to see if Stand had outstanding warrants the day he was killed. But the dispatcher told Martin there was no reason to take Stand into custody.
Within minutes, Martin allegedly received a call from dispatch, stating multiple callers had reported a man walking down the centerline with a knife in hand.
Trooper Martin claimed that after a foot chase, Stand “was making chopping or stabbing motions with the knife as the two faced each other,” the letter states.
“In this final encounter, Trooper Martin was again instructing Joshua Stand to drop the knife and talk to him,” the district attorney wrote in his report, adding that Martin watched Stand relax and put his knife into his pocket.
Martin “considered at this point physically engaging Joshua Stand but feared that Stand could remove his knife from his pocket quickly if this was attempted,” the document says. Stand allegedly turned and revealed the knife, before taking a step toward the cop, according to the report.
Martin estimated he was less than 20 feet from Stand and “feared that Joshua Stand would or was about to attack him,” the DA wrote.
Seconds later, Martin “shot Joshua Stand multiple times and he appears to have perished almost immediately,” the report added.
Daniel Smolen, the attorney for the Stand family, questioned the details of Martin’s story about the shooting.
“I think it’s awfully random that the same officer who arrested [Stand] a couple weeks before just happens to be patrolling when he’s allegedly walking down the highway with a knife,” Smolen told The Daily Beast.
“It’s heartbreaking to me,” the attorney added. “The family fought hard to get their kid out of custody because of mental health reasons, only to have him gunned down by the same trooper who locked him up.”