FBI investigation of Sheriff's Office, 1986
CENTRAL OKLAHOMA COUNTY REELING FROM SPATE OF BAD NEWS
GIL BROYLES, , Associated Press
Nov. 22, 1986 3:35 PM
CHANDLER, OKLA. CHANDLER, Okla. (AP) _ In Lincoln County, one commissioner was shot to death, a sheriff accused of beating two suspects has been jailed for civil rights violations, and the FBI is investigating. All this month.
The new sheriff says he's eating blood pressure pills like candy. A.T. Brixey says he's dealing with ''just a little breakdown in law and order.''
''They've got to remember, you're just human,'' the sheriff said Thursday.
Residents of the county - known for dairy farms, oil wells and successful high school football teams - have been on edge this fall.
''The sequence of events is kind of like a three-act play with a tragedy in each act,'' said county Commissioner John Ogez, 64.
Former Sheriff James Ray McLain and three deputies were arrested Nov. 1 and resigned and pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to federal civil rights violations in the beatings of two men being questioned about a burglary. A fourth deputy was fired. McLain faces up to 17 years in prison.
The FBI also alleges there was a plot to kill five people in an attempt to sidetrack the federal investigation, which is continuing.
Brixey put in 21 years on the Oklahoma City police force before retiring in 1978. He served a year as Chandler police chief before taking the sheriff's job, was sworn in with a new staff of deputies Nov. 8.
He went right to work to spruce up the office and its image.
''People were scared,'' Brixey said. ''I wanted to get my audit and inventory out of the way, then get out and do some public relations work and restore people's confidence in the office.''
Instead, a quiet Sunday morning brought a new shock to the community.
Lincoln County Commissioner Jack Poskey, who had been involved in seeking McLain's ouster, was found shot to death on Nov. 16. Authorities are still trying to determine whether he was killed or shot himself.
Poskey had coffee with friends at a Stroud cafe, then waved to acquaintances headed to church as he drove down a county road and parked near a bridge north of Davenport.
A neighbor saw him standing and looking at the bridge. About the same time, county dispatchers heard Poskey on his radio: ''I may need assistance.''
Other than giving his location, dispatcher Randa Johns said Poskey didn't say anything else. ''He sounded ... uncertain,'' she said.
A Davenport police officer heard the transmission and arrived at the bridge seven minutes later.
Poskey's body was on the bridge, a bullet wound in the forehead. The engine of his truck was running. Divers found a .22-caliber pistol that investigators believe belonged to Poskey in the creek below.
Brixey said he had talked to Poskey about the problems with the sheriff's office. ''I think he was concerned about that, for the safety of his life,'' Brixey said. But he said Poskey declined protection.
''I lay awake and think about the thing,'' Brixey said. ''It may never be completely resolved.''
Ogez said the circumstances of the past few weeks have frustrated commissioners, who already were fighting a losing battle of the budget to fund road repairs and related county expenditures.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Ted O'Donnell resigned, citing ''the stress and pressures from the job.''
Said Brixey, ''I'd kind of like to have as low a profile as possible.'' But his support in the community was apparent when he stopped at a local restaurant. ''We're praying for you,'' said one woman, hugging him.
At a Lions Club meeting in a banquet room next door, musicians tuned up with ''My Country, 'Tis of Thee,'' and a steady stream of businessmen, doctors and bankers stopped to grasp Brixey's hand.
Brixey wants to take the edge off the town's apprehension, but doesn't expect that to happen soon.
When a prominent businessman failed to return home or contact his wife for 27 hours on the day of Poskey's funeral, Brixey launched a search. Later, the man was found in another city, ''just puttering around.''
''I was eating those blood pressure pills like little candy tablets,'' Brixey said.