Frozen in time: An Oklahoma family still seeks answers one year after deadly police encounter
One year after her brother Julian Rose was killed during a police shooting in Glenpool, Okla., Autumn Rose says the family still feels frozen in time, reliving the grief.
"There's just so much missing," said Autumn. "Julian was such a big part of our life. And with that gone, so unexpectedly, there's such a hole that we don't even know how to begin to fill."
Julian's mother Allison Griffin remembers her son as being someone who had a big heart and was working to get his life back on track, find steady employment and see his young son again.
Griffin said the morning before the shooting, Julian kissed her on the forehead before she went to work. That was the last time she would see her son alive.
Shot 16 times
On Dec. 15, 2020, Julian Rose, a tribal citizen of the Muscogee Nation, was shot 16 times by three Glenpool Police officers following a domestic dispute with a family friend at his grandmother's home.
According to the police and medical examiner’s report recently obtained by KOSU, Julian was shot after a 911 call was placed from his grandmother's residence. A domestic dispute with his aunt's former boyfriend Chester Jones turned violent. According to the Glenpool Police report, Jones had broken bones and was unconscious. Fourteen minutes after that 911 call, Julian was lying in the middle of the street, handcuffed and pronounced dead at the scene.
The U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Oklahoma reported 12 shell casings surrounding the body, but a medical examiner's report listed 16 shots to Julian’s arm, lower torso and legs. Julian was also tased multiple times and suffered blunt force injuries to his head and abdomen.
Griffin, Julian’s mother, arrived at the scene shortly after he had died. She told KOSU she screamed, "You killed my baby!"
The family initially found it hard to get answers, as the Glenpool Police didn't handle the investigation because Julian was a Muscogee Nation citizen. According to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, when felony crimes occur against Native Americans on the Muscogee Nation's reservation, federal or tribal prosecutors must handle the case.
FBI and U.S. Attorney officials ultimately recommended that the officers involved in the shooting not be prosecuted because Julian had stabbed one of the officers in the right shoulder with a butcher knife he pulled from his pocket — something the family has had a hard time understanding.
Julian's brother Oscar Rose said he never believed that from the beginning.
"How are you going to fit a 12" butcher knife in your pocket?" questioned Oscar when talking about the weapon Julian used to stab the officer, who was treated for his injuries.
They don't understand why Julian attacked the officer or why he attacked Jones.
A lack of body cameras
Glenpool Police didn't have body cameras at the time of the shooting. That's something that surprised Robert Gifford, a Cherokee citizen and criminal defense attorney who specializes in tribal law.
"They don't have body cameras because they don't want body cameras," said Gifford, who is also a tribal judge.
Gifford says the lack of body cameras is intentional.
"Any police officer who takes the stand, and he doesn't have a body camera, I think there should be an instant suspicion as to the credibility of anything that he puts down in writing," Gifford said.
KOSU reached out to Glenpool Police to ask why the police department didn't have them at the time of the shooting. A spokesperson sent us this statement:
Video systems are a significant investment. The department has had a number of pressing needs in the past few years, including hiring officers to keep up with growth, adding computers, and a significant upgrade to radio communications across police and fire that would allow them to continue to be in contact with other area departments that had moved to a new radio band system.
Video systems are the next technology priority for the department.
In a follow-up exchange, KOSU was told that an investment had been made. Here's that statement:
The department recently finished a full installation of in-car computer systems as part of an ongoing effort under Chief Martin to enhance technology. As a part of that same effort, research into police video systems and various grants to support the purchase and upkeep of a system is currently underway within the department.
Family left with more questions than answers
Julian's family did consider filing a civil suit against Glenpool Police. According to Autumn Rose, Julian’s sister, the law office they contacted told them they would need a differing eyewitness account for any lawsuit to move forward. But, so far, no one from her grandmother's neighborhood has come forward.
"I just want people to know that there's more to this story than what was given," said Autumn. "That's not the kind of life that he lived. That's not how he treated people."