Former OU quarterback says he's fought hard to build new life

Charles Thompson said Friday he admitted his crimes in college and paid the price for them because he knew what he did was wrong. Since that time, he has built a new life for himself.
BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: August 8, 2010 at 1:06 am •  Published: August 8, 2010

Michael Barkett, Thompson's attorney, said the police report doesn't give all the details.

"While a lot of people have focused on Charles being upset and arguing with the police officer, in the depositions the officer admitted he ramped up the situation by arriving and running warrant checks on everyone in the room," Barkett said. "The police officer started using profanity and threatening to take people to jail."

Thompson was arrested when he stepped out of the door of the hotel room onto a deck in front of the room.

Court orders criticize officers' actions

Thompson refused to pay the $69 fine and took the matter to court. The disturbing the peace charge was dropped, but a city judge sided with officers on the public intoxication arrest, convicting Thompson based on the testimony of three police officers who said Thompson smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and his speech slightly slurred.

The conviction was overturned by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, which said there was clearly not enough evidence to support the charge.

Rulings in the recently settled lawsuit go into more detail about why the arrest was problematic and could explain why the city was willing to settle the case.

In one order, U.S. District Judge Lee West said that although state law does not require a sobriety test, officers must observe impaired physical responses or mental judgment. West said Thompson did not stumble or stagger on his walk to the patrol car, and loud and argumentative behavior is not enough to justify such an arrest.

"The Court finds that no reasonable arresting officer, confronted with the facts and circumstances, would have concluded that Thompson's mental judgment and physical responses were so materially impaired to believe that he was intoxicated," West's order said.

In another order, West said the disturbing the peace arrest was without probable cause because neither the officer nor the hotel employee who signed the complaint witnessed the behavior.

Thompson said he doesn't want people to think all police officers are bad, merely that the officers in his case behaved inappropriately.

He said he also hopes the case will educate people about how little evidence there is in many public intoxication arrests.

"We are one of the few states that doesn't require some sort of test," Thompson said. "The public automatically assumes the person failed a sobriety test or a breathalyzer. I think to some degree, it will open some people's eyes."

Barkett the case could have far reaching implications if others are willing to challenge such arrests.

"I'm not trying to say that everyone is innocent, but in cases where there is really no evidence, I think it should be challenged," Barkett said. "We all have a Fourth Amendment Constitutional right to be free from illegal search and seizure and that includes arrest. It takes someone like Charles willing to challenge these kinds of illegal arrests. It's going to take more than simply saying bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smell of alcohol in a police report to arrest someone."

That has been the platform that has allowed me to do a lot of good things in the lives of kids. That's what motivates me moving forward."
Charles Thompson

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