The volatile end to an unlikely romance between a convicted felon and an Oklahoma City police officer could end up costing the department $2 million.
Earl Theo Sykes, who served nearly a decade behind bars for armed robbery, is suing the Oklahoma City Police Department in federal court, claiming his ex-girlfriend lied to investigators to have him arrested following a domestic squabble two years ago on Christmas Eve.
Chief Bill Citty, former detective. James Husted and two other officers are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Sykes claims he was arrested for no good reason after his ex-girlfriend — Oklahoma City police officer Sherrica King — lied to investigators following a domestic incident on Dec. 24, 2011. Sykes and King have a young daughter together.
According to court records, Sykes was at King's home the night of the incident to watch his daughter open Christmas presents. As it got later, Sykes apparently requested permission to stay the night and an argument ensued. Some time later, one of King's daughters called 911 as the confrontation apparently became physical.
Sykes was arrested a few days later while parked in front of a church near King's residence.
Once he was formally charged in April 2012, he would remain jailed until October of that year, records show.
An investigation into King's statements about the Dec. 24, 2011, incident would lead to misdemeanor charges for the officer — one count of providing false information to police — but they were later dropped by the state.
Sykes was charged with one count each of violating a protective order, first-degree burglary and domestic assault and battery following the Christmas Eve incident. The charges were later dropped, but Sykes spent several months in the Oklahoma County jail after his arrest.
Sykes, who is representing himself in court, claims the officers who arrested him knew that King had provided false information but took him to jail anyway. He said the couple had become a “liability” to the Oklahoma City Police Department because of past issues of alleged domestic violence.
“Chief Bill Citty (and the other officers involved) was aware of all the circumstances of both cases at the time of initial finding of probable cause for the domestic abuse charge,” Sykes wrote in his petition. “City officials were aware that they were using an unreliable witness to prosecute (Sykes).”
It appears Sykes may be correct.
A probable cause affidavit filed along with King's criminal charge reveals that King lied to Husted as he investigated the Christmas Eve incident.
The affidavit was filed in April 2012, six months before Sykes' release from jail following the dismissal of his criminal cases.
King, 37, told investigators that Sykes had not been staying at her house before the Christmas Eve incident.
When Husted interviewed King's oldest daughter, however, it was revealed that King had not been truthful.
“She said (Sykes) has been staying there the whole time,” Husted wrote. “The witness did say (Sykes) and (King) would get mad and (Sykes) would leave for a couple days but then he would return.”
Husted wrote that King eventually admitted that she allowed Sykes into the house “on several occasions but didn't realize (her daughter) knew.”
Since December 2010, King has sought three separate protective orders against Sykes. Two were granted by the court. Last year, the most recent order was extended until October 2015.
A review of the final order, signed by a judge on Oct. 22, 2012, reveals that Sykes is “prohibited from attempting or having ANY CONTACT whatsoever with (King)” through Oct. 15, 2015.
Sykes and King could not be reached for comment on this story.
Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said King was “disciplined administratively” after she became the focus of a criminal investigation.
He did not say what kind of discipline King received, only that she wasn't demoted and didn't lose pay.
King's relationship with Sykes, a known felon, is a “complicated” matter for the Oklahoma City Police Department, Nelson said.
According to the department's own rules, officers are not supposed to associate with “persons, organizations, or places with a reputation for criminal or immoral behavior, unless necessary for law enforcement business.”
“To the best of our knowledge, Ms. King no longer resides with Mr. Sykes,” Nelson said of the pair.
“It is a complicated matter because we cannot dictate who our officers fall in love with or who they ultimately decide to bear children with.”
An affidavit filed by Husted mentions the fact that King was allowing a felon to potentially have access to her service firearm.
“The victim is an Oklahoma City police officer and had a loaded firearm” in the house at the time of the alleged assault,” Husted wrote in the affidavit.
“The loaded firearm and magazines were inside the residence, accessible to the defendant who is a felon. The loaded firearm was located in the closet of the victim's master bedroom, lying on the floor.”