Kathy Parker & Cydney Baron
Cydney Baron and
PRYOR — A man was killed during a drug arrest Tuesday morning at the Pryor Days Inn.
According to Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed, the suspect was shot by an off duty Salina officer riding with a Mayes County Deputy.
“In fact the deputy did not fire,” Reed said.
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s report, the deputy and Salina Police Officer made a traffic stop in front of the Days Inn, 495 MidAmerica Drive, Pryor, just after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
They approached the vehicle and believed drugs might be inside. The officers took the driver and passenger from the vehicle and requested a drug K-9 from Chouteau to check the exterior of the vehicle. The dog alerted on the vehicle, allowing officers to search inside. Narcotics were found.
Two men were arrested: Carl Don Thomas, 26, of Pryor and 41-year-old Robert William Rowbotham of Locust Grove. They were booked on complaints of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
One of the men told officers a meeting was set at the Days Inn, according to the OSBI. The two law enforcement officers went to investigate, and although the occupants of the room refused to open the door, the K9 officer again alerted to the presence of drugs, according to the OSBI.
With that information, the officers requested the motel manager open the door. Inside the room were a man and woman. The woman complied with officer commands and was escorted outside the room. The man, Will Perneau, did not comply. Officers took him to the floor and handcuffed him.
In the split second after he was handcuffed, before officers began frisking him, the woman threw a fit, diverting the officers’ attention. Perneau was shot when he pulled a gun from the back waistband of his pants, spun around and started shooting.
Perneau shot at the officers and “barely missed,” Reed said. “Only after he was fired upon did the officer fire.” Reed said it was a life-threatening situation and use of a firearm was the officer’s only option.
Reed said the officers acted exactly as they have been trained, their main focus being to protect the other motel patrons.
Two patrons of the motel said they saw the woman who was with Perneau at the time of the incident. They said she was not the woman he previously introduced as his girlfriend. According to the clerk, she was not the woman who checked into the motel room. The guests said they heard the shots fired, and it sounded as if an entire clip was emptied.
The woman, whose name is not being disclosed, was visibly shaken after the event, Reed said. The officers questioned her before determining to release her.
Thomas and Rowbotham were released from the custody of the Mayes County Jail Tuesday afternoon.
At arraignments at 1:30 p.m., presiding Judge Rebecca Gore explained both were being released with no charges. She reminded the men this does not mean they won’t be charged in the future.
OSBI agents are gathering evidence and interviewing officers and any witnesses. Once the investigation is complete, agents will provide the district attorney with a report. The district attorney will determine if the shooting was justified. The OSBI will not release the names of the officers since they are the focus of the investigation.
Both law enforcement officers are on paid leave pending the investigation.
According to Reed, formal charges will not be made until the two officers return from paid leave.
“Psychologists recommend letting the shock of this sort of incident wear off before the officers write their statements and formally file the charges. Once they are back from leave, charges will be filed and a warrant will be issued for their arrest,” said Reed.
Rowbotham has a criminal record that includes endeavor to manufacture controlled dangerous substance after former conviction of a felony, burglary second degree (AFCF), three counts of domestic assault and battery, public intoxication, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, knowingly concealing stolen property and escape from penal institution (1991).
Thomas’ record includes four counts of possession of controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute AFCF.