A former Valley Brook police officer did not have probable cause to pull over an Oklahoma City police detective suspected of driving under the influence the night he was arrested but not charged with a crime, the town's police chief testified Tuesday.
“The probable cause did not exist,” Valley Brook Police Chief Michael Stamp told a jury.
Stamp, though, said then-Valley Brook officer Shelby N. Field had “reasonable suspicion” to pull over detective Chuck Wheeler on the night of Sept. 26, 2009 — outside of the department's jurisdiction — because Wheeler threatened the officer's safety while making a traffic stop.
Attorneys for Wheeler, who is suing Field in civil court for unspecified damages, allege Field had no legal authority to detain their client inside Oklahoma City limits without probable cause. They also allege Field was unnecessarily physically and verbally abusive toward the detective.
Field left the department in April 2010 for personal reasons. He testified Tuesday feeling “very startled” when Wheeler drove by, honked his horn and then “swerved.”
Wheeler's attorneys contend their client honked his horn as if to say “I see you,” and turned his car slightly to the left to avoid Field. The detective's wife told the jury he tapped his horn twice and moved to the center lane to avoid the officer.
“There was 15 feet between our truck and the officer's body,” Vickie Wheeler testified.
Field claims he was grazed on the arm by the passenger side mirror on Wheeler's Ford F150 Super Duty truck.
“If I wasn't grazed it felt very close to being struck,” Field said.
Roxan Goble, the motorist Field ticketed for speeding, testified that Wheeler's truck didn't strike the officer and Field was never in danger.
“No sir, there's no way that truck could have touched anyone or anything,” Goble said.
Field's attorney claims his client's actions were justified because Wheeler appeared to be driving erratically and ignored several commands by Field to get back in his truck when he was pulled over in the 4800 block of S Eastern.
A scuffle ensued and Wheeler assaulted Field by slapping away the officer's hands when he pushed Wheeler in the chest to get him to back up, Field's attorney said.
Wheeler was arrested and taken to the Valley Brook police station, where he was detained for three hours. But Wheeler was neither charged with a crime nor given a Breathalyzer test to determine whether he was under the influence, according to testimony.
Stamp, then a captain who took Field's call as he returned to the police station with Wheeler in the back seat of his patrol car, testified that Field never told him Wheeler's truck made contact with him and never swerved out of the driver's lane.
When Wheeler's attorney Carl Hughes told Stamp no offense was committed and there was no objective basis for probable cause to exist, Stamp said