OKLAHOMA CITY — Jurors on Friday convicted a man of second-degree murder in the death of an Oklahoma City police officer.
The panel of seven men and five women also recommended a 45-year prison term for Kyle Wayne Grider, 23, who was accused of causing the accident that killed Sgt. Jonathan Dragus on Oct. 20, 2005.
Dragus was trying to stop Grider, who was said to have been riding a stolen motorcycle, when a high-speed pursuit ensued and eventually ended up on the Northwest Expressway, or Oklahoma Highway 3, in northwest Oklahoma City.
Dragus lost control of his police cruiser and it crashed at an intersection on the highway, reports show. He died shortly after the crash.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Charles Cox said Grider has never denied he was guilty of eluding police, for which he also is charged, but he maintained his client was not to blame for the wreck that killed Dragus.
“In this particular situation, no one took Sgt. Dragus’ life,” Cox said. “He died in a car wreck.”
Prosecutors contend Grider was responsible for the crash because he chose to run when Dragus tried to pull him over. . .
I know most of my readers may disagree with me on this, but I think the jury was wrong. The defendant stole a motorcycle and ran from the police. This was stupid and criminal, but I don’t think it is murder. Northwest Expressway is one of the busiest streets in OKC (for out-of-town readers, it isn’t a true freeway but rather a busy highway that has many driveways and stop lights every half mile or so), and I can’t imagine why the OKC cops would do a high speed pursuit on this road unless it was life and death (and a stolen motorcycle isn’t life and death). Sure this kid was stupid and panicked, but a much better approach would be to continue pursuit at normal speeds and track the thief’s location by air.
So the result of all of this is that due to a stupid criminal deciding to run, the poor judgment of OKC police, and the really bad judgment of a jury, we have not only a killed public servant but we also have a wasted life with young man facing the next 45 years to be spent in prison.
This is madness in my opinion and is a tragedy.