Man accused of shooting Tecumseh police officer charged with murder
SHAWNEE — Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon's eyes were wet when he announced Wednesday that the man accused of shooting and killing Tecumseh police officer Justin Terney has been charged with murder.
"He wanted to be a police officer since he was 3 years old," Smothermon said. "He wanted to be a K9 officer. Just bought a dog to train. Named her Onyx.
"We're a small community. We're a small county. It's a small department. Can't help but meet them all. By all accounts, one of the most-liked officers on the police department," Smothermon said.
"The kind of kid you hate to see go, and he's 22 years old. Twenty-two. Younger than my kids," he said.
Byron James Shepard, 35, faces one count of first-degree murder in Pottawatomie County District Court. Shepard's breathing tube was taken out Wednesday afternoon and his condition upgraded from critical to serious, Smothermon said.
He was shot at least three times by Terney, he said.
During a Wednesday news conference, Smothermon showed about 10 minutes of a police dash cam video of the incident. Terney's family watched the video earlier Wednesday, he said.
The video shows the traffic stop at Gordon Cooper Drive and Benson Park Road about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Driver Brooklyn Williams is seen speaking to Terney, and Shepard gives him a fake name.
The two make small talk while the dispatcher searches for the false identity.
After it becomes apparent Shepard is lying, Terney asks him again to be honest. Shepard turns his back on Terney before fleeing into a wooded area off the side of the road.
The officer's microphone picks up Terney screaming at Shepard to stop. Then the sound of gunfire is heard on the dash cam video.
"Central, I've been hit," Terney said.
Terney suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen and upper leg, court records show. He died Monday at OU Medical Center.
"Justin Terney did everything right. He was a perfect gentleman to both the driver of the vehicle and the suspect until such time as he ran. He did the least intrusive thing by Tasing him instead of shooting him as he fled. He did everything to keep from doing what he did," Smothermon said.
Shepard, who lives in Okemah, was charged in Okfuskee County District Court on Feb. 22 with a count of knowingly concealing stolen property. He was accused of stealing a pickup and equipment from an oil drilling company, according to court records.
"He knew he had warrants. He knew he was going to jail. He lied to the police officer. His warrant was for a non-violent knowingly concealing stolen property. He had drugs in his pocket," Smothermon said.
"He could have been arrested, made bond the next day, been out, fought his non-violent crime. But he chose not to. He chose to take the life of my officer," he said.
Smothermon said it is too early to decide whether to seek the death penalty.
"In this district, we haven't had a police officer shot since May 10th of 1999," he said.
Shepard has previously pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, public intoxication, threatening to perform an act of violence, malicious injury to property, driving under suspension, escape from arrest and violating a protective order, court records show.
Williams, 22, told investigators Shepard was her boyfriend, and that she knew he had warrants for his arrest when they borrowed her mother's car to go get a drink after smoking methamphetamine, according to a probable cause affidavit.
She is accused of harboring a fugitive, according to the probable cause affidavit. Williams has been arrested but had not been charged Wednesday.
Services for Terney, who also was a volunteer firefighter, will be 2 p.m. Friday in the Canadian High School auditorium. Canadian is Terney's hometown.