Aug. 17-Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating after a trooper rolled a car during a pursuit, ejecting a man and a woman - and ultimately killing the man - on Interstate 35 in Norman.
The ejected woman was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon, OHP trooper Eric Foster confirmed Tuesday. A third occupant, Alex Carpenter, 30, was not ejected and was in good condition following the wreck.
A fatal crash summary was not available Tuesday afternoon.
OHP has booked Carpenter into the Cleveland County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the incident. Formal charges had not been filed against Carpenter Tuesday, Foster said.
OHP had not determined Tuesday who the driver was because Carpenter had "lawyered up" and was not cooperating with them, Foster said. He said investigators are currently determining who drove the car.
"It doesn't matter who the driver is. If you're involved in a felony act, that's well-established case law in the state of Oklahoma. If you are involved in a felony act or a party to a felony act and someone dies in that, you can be charged with murder," Foster said. "So the charges are there - that doesn't mean that he'll be adjudicated on that, but those are the charges, because he was involved in a felony act."
The trooper involved in the pursuit is on administrative duty as OHP investigates the pursuit, tactical maneuver and fatal crash, a Tuesday news release from the agency states. Foster did not identify the trooper, citing the internal investigation.
The trooper who used the tactical maneuver initially tried to do a traffic stop on the car around 9 p.m. Monday at South High Avenue and Southwest Grand Boulevard in Oklahoma City. He reportedly verified the tag on the vehicle was stolen, the release states.
The driver led the trooper south on Interstate 35 into Norman. At one point, they got off onto Fourth Street in Moore, but got back onto the interstate, the release says.
Foster said the driver was driving aggressively at the troopers pursuing the car and swerving to avoid a tactical maneuver.
The trooper eventually spun out the car between Rock Creek and Tecumseh roads on I-35 in Norman. The vehicle rolled, and two of the three people inside were ejected, the release states.
When asked if OHP believes the tactical maneuver and following death fit the nature of the alleged crime and the situation, Foster said the driver created a dangerous situation by trying to elude the trooper.
"It's unfortunate whenever anyone perishes no matter what, but their decision to flee directly resulted in a fatality," Foster said. "It did not have to result in a fatality at all.
"If someone pulls over and yields, no fatality would have happened. So the decision was made that someone decided to flee in a felonious manner and put countless lives at risk on the interstate was in direct relation to how it ended."
Foster argued that "just looking at the science," OHP troopers know that pulling off and turning off their lights doesn't stop someone. When asked for empirical data that proves this, Foster said The Transcript could "probably do some good investigative journalism" to determine it.
Foster also said OHP has videos of motorists driving recklessly after law enforcement pulls off.
When asked if he believed the situation was made more dangerous by the pursuit, Foster said "the fact that someone fled is the exact decision that made it dangerous."
"I oppose, completely oppose, the philosophy that we should allow something like that to continue and put people in danger. I completely disagree with that philosophy," he said. "It has to be stopped, and it has to be stopped right now, and that's what the trooper did."