Judge: Murder Case Against Cop For Killing Active Shooter Will Proceed To Trial
Perry, OK – The Blackwell police lieutenant facing murder charges for fatally shooting an active shooter was in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a Noble County judge determined there was sufficient probable cause for the case to proceed to trial, KWTV reported.
An independent internal affairs committee cleared him of any wrongdoing, but on Nov. 21, 2019, a grand jury determined that Lt. Mitchell engaged in “imminently dangerous conduct” towards Godsey without excusable or justifiable cause by firing approximately 60 rounds during the gun battle, The Oklahoman reported.
Lt. Mitchell faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of the second-degree murder charge against him.
Law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions packed the courtroom during the preliminary hearing on Tuesday, KFOR reported.
"We've been excited from the get-go to have the evidence in this case brought out to the public, that's happening now. The facts of the case haven't changed since May 20th," Oklahoma State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Jason Smith told KFOR. "It's a horrible situation but the facts of the case, we believe exonerate Lt. Mitchell."
"The outcome of this case could determine how law enforcement is handled in the State of Oklahoma," Smith added. "It couldn't be more important to us that we want to support our brother."
The incident that led to the officer-involved shooting began at approximately 3 a.m., when Blackwell police received reports that someone was firing a gun in the 1300-block of South Main, KFOR reported.
At least one of the rounds had struck a vehicle.
While officers responded to the scene, the dispatch center received additional calls that someone in a white pickup was firing rounds at several locations around Blackwell.
Dashcam footage showed a Blackwell police officer as he arrived in the area and stopped to ask a woman if she had heard any gunfire.
She confirmed that she heard gunshots about two minutes prior.
“She’s got a gun,” the woman told the officer, referring to a woman she had been trying to speak with before he pulled up.
“Did she fire it?” the officer asked.
“Yeah,” the woman responded.
She then asked the officer to “please back up and get behind us,” the video showed.
“I don’t want her to…” the woman added, her voice trailing off.
Just then, the armed woman she was talking about – later identified as Godsey – ordered the officer to “get to where I can see you,” the video showed.
As the officer calmly radioed for additional units, a shot rang out.
The officer drew his weapon as the female witness repeatedly told him to “get down.”
“She was going to shoot me earlier,” the witness warned him.
The officer yelled to Godsey to put her gun down, but she refused.
“You first!” she retorted. “You need to get back in your car. Let me get on down the road…You ain’t putting me in jail, bubba.”
The officer repeatedly tried to speak with Godsey to convince her to drop her weapon as he simultaneously tried to get the second woman to drive away to safety.
“I don’t want to move,” the witness told him. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he assured her.
During the standoff that ensued, the officer tried desperately to calm the armed woman and to convince her to surrender.
“You don’t want to do this,” he said.
“Oh yes I do!” she responded. “Because you guys suck.”
Godsey, who was inside the white Ford F-150 pickup, opened fire a moment later, the video showed.
“I’ve got a house with kids for my backstop,” the officer radioed.
“Alright, I ain’t got time for this,” Godsey finally declared as she started the pickup’s ignition.
Additional shots rang out as the suspect sped away from the scene.
The officer confirmed that he “exchanged two rounds with her,” and that she was carrying a black, semi-automatic handgun.
Blackwell Police Corporal Keith Denton, the officer Godsey shot at, testified during Lt. Mitchell’s preliminary hearing on Tuesday, KFOR reported.
Cpl. Denton confirmed that Godsey pointed a gun at him during their tense encounter.
“It entered into my mind that this is the night I could lose my life,” he testified.
Godsey led the officer on a slow-speed chase as additional officers raced to the area.
The shooter fired multiple more rounds as at least one other patrol vehicle joined the chase.
Moments later, Blackwell Police Lieutenant John Mitchell discharged his AR-15 through his windshield, aiming at the back of Godsey’s vehicle, KWTV reported.
He fired multiple additional rounds before and after Godsey finally brought the pickup to a stop.
After ensuring that his fellow officers had “armor,” and “a fresh mag in their gun,” the lieutenant approached the suspect vehicle and confirmed that Godsey was down.
They immediately radioed for an ambulance.
The shooter’s handgun was found on the center console of the pickup.
After instructing his fellow officers to check themselves for injuries, Lt. Mitchell explained that everyone needed to have two or three “six-to-eight-hour sleep cycles” before they discussed the incident amongst themselves or with anyone else, the video showed.
“We don't talk amongst ourselves, we don't talk to OSBI, we don't talk to anybody until we get those sleep cycles in. Alright?” he reiterated.
Smith later explained that the instructions Lt. Mitchell gave his officers regarding interviews were made in accordance with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommendations.
“The IACP Police Psychological Services Section recommends delaying personal interviews from 48 to 72 hours in order to provide the officer with sufficient recovery time to help enhance recall,” Smith quoted in a Facebook post. “This interval is particularly recommended for officers who were directly involved in the shooting, but it may also be necessary for officers who witnessed the incident but did not discharge their firearms.”
During the hearing on Tuesday, District Attorney Jason Hicks asked Cpl. Denton if it would have been reasonable for police to hold their fire to allow time to determine what Godsey’s next move would be, KFOR reported.
The corporal paused for a while before he confirmed that waiting would have been reasonable.
Hicks then asked Cpl. Denton if Lt. Mitchell should have kept firing at Godsey’s truck after it came to a stop.
Cpl. Denton testified that he did not believe continuing to fire at the shooter was reasonable, KFOR reported.
The FOP has blasted Hicks for withholding evidence about the suspect’s bullet holes in the officer’s vehicle while he was presenting the case to a grand jury.
Smith noted that the mainstream media is ignoring the fact that officers were responding to a report of a suspect who was “shooting and hitting multiple targets around town.”
“An innocent bystander driving on the streets of Blackwell came under fire at the hands of this woman,” he added. “She fired on his car with him in it, he escaped only by leaving his vehicle and hiding when he called for police to respond.”
Godsey also shot at her own mother before she opened fire on police, the FOP president noted.
An independent internal affairs committee and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation quickly cleared Lt. Mitchell and the other officers present of any wrongdoing in the officer-involved shooting, The Oklahoman reported.
The union president complained that the district attorney, however, wasn’t as quick to make up his mind and waited seven months before he presented evidence to a grand jury.
“A 15-man department has been minus three officers for months because the DA waited seven months while he tried to decide what he wanted to do,” Smith ranted. “He left out so much key evidence out of the indictment and I believe that was because he wanted to get that indictment.”
“I’ve yet to see in American history when an active shooter was taken out by a police officer or civilian who was then charged with murder – murder isn’t defined by that in America,” Smith told Blue Lives Matter.
Smith called Lt. Mitchell the perfect example of a “good lawman,” but instead of holding him up as deserving of praise, they’re trying to make a bad example out of him.
“Instead of the heroism award he should have gotten for putting his life between the public and an active shooter, Lt. Mitchell received an indictment for murder,” he said, sounding disgusted.
“They’re trying to spin it – Lt. Mitchell didn’t do what he did to grandstand and get into a shootout,” Smith told Blue Lives Matter. “He did it to protect his fellow officers. He put his body and his car between the shooter and other officers and the public.”
The FOP leader told Blue Lives Matter that Hicks was just another example of a district attorney trying to make a name for himself.
“They’re not holding officers accountable to the law – they’re holding them above the law,” Smith said. “It’s not fair to the men and women who serve and it’s not fair to the public either. Some DAs are taking that blindfold off of Lady Justice and tipping the scales to an unreasonable nature and it’s costing officers their lives.”