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Oklahoma City police officer charged in assault of motorist

An Oklahoma City police officer has been charged with assault. The charge stems from a traffic stop where a motorist yelled at the officer, police reported.
Oklahoman Modified: March 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm •  Published: March 3, 2014

An Oklahoma City police officer was charged Friday with assault and battery, accused of chasing down a passing motorist who yelled at him during a January traffic stop.

The latest alleged incident occurred about 10:35 a.m. Jan. 26, when Sgt. Matt Downing stopped a driver for failing to move forward at a green light at NW 36 and May Avenue. According to his police report, the sergeant turned on his emergency lights and tried to speak to the driver to determine the problem. The driver wouldn’t roll down her window, and Downing had to yell to communicate with her.

That’s when another motorist got involved, leaning out of his pickup window and yelling “Road rage sucks,” according to reports from police and the department’s internal affairs unit.

The passing driver, Robert John Biegler, 50, of Oklahoma City, was yelling at the officer, he said.

Downing left the traffic stop in pursuit of Biegler. He followed the pickup to a convenience store at 3653 N May Ave. where he sounded his siren while Biegler walked inside. Downing followed and asked Biegler to leave the store with him. Biegler yelled for the clerk to call the police, according to Downing’s report.

Downing, claiming he thought the 5-foot-6-inch, 140-pound man was “mentally unstable,” grabbed Biegler’s left arm, escorted him out the door and took him to the ground before before placing him under arrest and putting him in handcuffs, according to reports.

Downing tried to arrest Biegler on complaints of failure to devote full time and attention to driving, interfering with official process by obstruction and interfering with official process by failing to obey a lawful order, according to his report.

Biegler was in the back of a police car when Downing’s supervisor arrived. The supervisor disagreed with Downing’s use of force and subsequent arrest and released Biegler, according to the internal affairs report.

Monday, Biegler said he heard the police officer swearing at the other motorist before he yelled his comment.

Inside the store, Biegler said he was putting cream and sugar in his coffee, when Downing approached him and said, “You think you’re pretty smart,” and that he was taking him to jail.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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