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Oklahoma County DA won't file charges in case of man who died in police custody

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater told family members there was not enough evidence to charge two officers in the death of Robin Leander Howard, 54.
by Tim Willert Modified: October 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm •  Published: October 17, 2012

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Wednesday he will not file charges against two Oklahoma City police officers accused of excessive force by the family of a man who died in police custody.

Robin Leander Howard, 57, died in June after a physical confrontation with patrol officers Jeff Coffey and Doug Grady.

Prater told family members during a midafternoon meeting there was not enough evidence to charge the officers with a crime, but stopped short of saying the officers' actions were justified.

“There's no evidence that the officers involved in the arrest of Robin Howard committed a criminal act, therefore no charges will be filed against the officers,” he said.

The family's attorney, David Slane, said he wasn't surprised by the district attorney's decision.

“I think he's acting on what limited information he has,” Slane said. “I'm still very disappointed in the way the police department handled this matter from the beginning, and I'm not sure I accept their explanations of what happened.”

Family members, wearing T-shirts that read “Expose the cover-up” with a picture of Howard, claim the department failed to notify them about his death until they had time to “hide” what happened.

“We have to do everything in our power to uncover the cover-up,” said Deidre Hill, Howard's sister.

Prater met with family members for nearly an hour Wednesday. He said he spoke with Chief Bill Citty about his decision and will mail an official letter to the police department.

Prater said his office will reopen the investigation “if additional evidence comes to light.”

“We don't ever truly close these cases,” he said.

Police department officials, including Citty, declined to comment.

The chief had previously said the department “dropped the ball” because an officer assigned to notify Howard's family of his death failed to do so until four days had passed.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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