Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir spoke at a press conference in Chickasha Thursday about an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of 65-year-old Grady County resident Thomas Vandemark.
The call came in from two miles outside Rush Springs and responding deputy Terry Alexander requested aid from Rush Springs PD to shorten response time. According to a release, Vandemark had a handgun when confronting police and refused to comply with commands to drop his weapon.
The sheriff said Vandemark made an aggressive movement toward the RSPD officer with the weapon, forcing the officer to defend himself.
The Grady County Sheriff’s Office received the 911 call Wednesday, July 6 at 9:53 p.m. and made the recordings available to media outlets. The caller did not hang up the phone until after the fatal shot at exactly 10 p.m.
The recording began with a man and woman arguing. No response was given to the dispatcher, but a woman was heard saying “Stop hitting me. Stop it. Please leave me alone.”
“Ma’am?” the dispatcher asked.
The obscenity-laced recording continues with a man saying “You don’t want to [expletive] me off. You lying [expletive]. Don’t ever [expletive] call me a liar.”
The woman can be heard telling the man “Go in there with that gun. I know you have a gun,” before she begins crying.
The man’s yelling continued with threats and insults while the woman continued to ask him to put the gun away. After a few minutes, the man can be heard yelling “Get your [expletive] [expletive] off my property.”
The responding Rush Springs Officer is heard in the distance yelling “Drop the gun” three times before a gunshot is heard.
“She had no injuries,” Sheriff Weir said of the woman in the recording. “On the tape, it’s hard to tell exactly what was going on. On the tape, you can hear the conflict and it sounded very serious. You can hear the gun mentioned.”
Weir said he felt the officer was justified in taking the action he did. “(Vandemark) was verbally aggressive and belligerent toward the officer,” Weir said. “He finally made an aggressive move and the officer felt his life was in danger and the officer fired one shot, striking the subject. He fell immediately and did not move.”
“It’s very clearly written out in the law that if you feel your life is in danger, if you need to take action to protect your life or another person’s life, you can take deadly force.”
The RSPD officer is currently on leave, and the incident is under investigation by the OSBI.