Police Pepper Spray Elderly Woman

| by Nicholas Roberts
Geneva Smith, 84Geneva Smith, 84

Top officials at the Muskogee Police Department in Oklahoma said they were conducting an internal investigation after an incident which involved officers pepper-spraying an elderly woman in her own home.

Geneva Smith, 84, said that she was pepper-sprayed by a female officer at roughly 2:45 a.m. on Aug. 7, according to the Muskogee Phoenix.  

Police were searching for her son, Arthur Paul Blackmon, 56, whom they said had illegally run a stop sign.

"I don’t know why they pepper-sprayed me," said Smith.

"I just came out and asked what was going on."

Smith said that she plans to take legal action against the department.  Muskogee Police Chief Rex Eskridge did not comment about the possibility of litigation, but said that the department was examining the case carefully.

"Right now, we're in the process of doing an internal [investigation], and we have several issues we have to look at," said Eskridge.

A video of the incident was released on Aug. 26.  It shows Blackmon exiting the vehicle in question, completely ignoring law enforcement, and entering the residence where his mother lived.

"It starts off as a traffic stop -- that’s a low misdemeanor -- but based on the other evidence gathered in those three minutes ... it could be a severe crime. It could have been a home invasion," said attorney Scott Wood, who was hired due to the potential for litigation. He also said the truck wasn't registered to Blackmon or anyone else at the address.

After an officer kicked in the door, Blackmon was shot with a stun gun.  Smith was reportedly trying to figure out what was going on in her home at the late hour.

One female officer delivered a second of pepper spray to Smith.

"My mother’s 84 years old, mother f-----," said Blackmon in response, according to the video.

Eskridge said that Smith failed to comply with officers' orders and turned toward the kitchen.  He also noted that the matter was still under internal investigation.

"There is nothing more serious than to breach a home without a proper search warrant," he said.

"We want to make sure that we were in compliance with, not just policy, but the law."

Sources: Muskogee Phoenix (2) / Photo credit: KOKI via Slate

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