An 18-year-old man shot by police on Sunday was shot in the back and may be paralyzed, his stepfather said.
Verle Deljet Parton, 18, of Oklahoma City, was shot about 9:40 p.m. Sunday near SW 59 and Agnew Avenue by police Sgt. John Baker, a 10-year veteran of the department and member of the gang unit.
The incident happened as police tried to stop the car Parton was driving near SW 59 and Pennsylvania Avenue. The car sped away before Parton and two passengers hopped out and ran. Baker was chasing Parton by foot when Parton turned on the officer with a gun, police reported. He had refused to stop and drop his weapon, police said.
Jason Gunkel, Parton's stepfather, said he was able to see Parton for two or three minutes in the hospital on Monday. His stepson said he had been shot in the back and was paralyzed, details police said they could not confirm.
“He could barely talk,” Gunkel said. “They told us we had to leave, and not to come back.”
Police would not initially tell Gunkel where Parton was being treated.
Parton is under police guard at the hospital in critical condition, Capt. Dexter Nelson said. He is being held on a complaint of eluding police, though it's likely more complaints will be added once interviews with officers involved in the chase are complete.
The police department and hospitals have policies in place when individuals are in police custody there that restrict the flow of information and visitors, Nelson said. The policies are meant to protect other patients, as well as the individual in custody. Police are wary of scenarios where gang members may try to harm, or family or other affiliates try to free, individuals under arrest at the hospital.
That's frustrating Gunkel, he said.
“He's in critical condition. He ain't going nowhere,” he said. “I'm just worried about him.”
Parton has a troubled past, said his step-grandmother, Sharon Gunkel. He has a juvenile criminal record, but had taken steps recently to turn his life around.
He spent his teen years in the custody of the state Department of Human Services and has a history of running away. Police said he has a juvenile record that includes a host of misdemeanor offenses and a warrant arrest from 2011.
Relatives said Parton's father has never been in his life and his mother is mentally ill. Parton does not have a high school diploma, but earned a welding certificate after moving to a life-skills training center in his late teens. More recently, he had participated in Job Corps, an education and job training program sponsored by the federal government.
“He was willing to work and was excited to get the rest of his education and get a job,” Sharon Gunkel said.
Then things fell apart.
“Something has happened in the last month or so,” Sharon Gunkel said. Parton does not have a home and had been staying with his girlfriend.
After the chase Sunday, police arrested Rafael Zermeno, 17, on outstanding juvenile felony warrants. The third male in the car was not arrested, Nelson said.