Weatherford police officers are disciplined after 'bear crawl' incident

by Andrew Knittle Published: September 7, 2012

Three police officers are demoted and a fourth is suspended for two weeks without pay after an internal investigation by the Weatherford Police Department found that the officers acted inappropriately as they dealt with a group of intoxicated college students last month.

The demotions and suspension come after a Southwestern Oklahoma State University student refused to “bear crawl” back to his apartment rather than go to jail for being drunk in public, a deal the young man said Weatherford police officers offered him.

Officers Kyle Bridges, Travis Ratcliffe and Ryan Sweeden each were demoted from the rank of sergeant back to patrolman.

A fourth officer, Austin Ellis, was suspended two weeks without pay, according to Weatherford police.

The officers had responded to a “large, loud” house party in the early morning hours of Aug. 26 shortly before the incident played out, police said.

Dylan Frizzell, the student who refused to crawl back to the apartment, publicly complained about the incident and wrote an open letter that was published in the local newspaper.

Frizzell told The Oklahoman shortly after the incident that he refused the officers' deal on principle.

“It was just the humiliation of it,” he said. “While they were crawling, there were a lot of taunts and dog calls and stuff.”

Frizzell said he and his group of friends were respectful to the officers and never denied being intoxicated. He also said the officers' behavior wasn't a surprise to him and that he'd heard similar stories before his own encounter — and since.

The department announced the disciplinary actions in a news release Friday and mentioned Frizzell by name in the report.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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