WOODWARD, Okla. — District 26 District Attorney Christopher M. Boring has ruled the fatal shooting of a Woodward man in Vici in February was justified.
Michael Richard Stambaugh was shot about 20 times on Feb. 24 by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. The shooting happened when U.S. Marshal Service attempted to execute a felony arrest warrant with assistance of Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
In a letter to OHP Chief Colonel Brent Sugg on June 9, Boring stated it was his opinion that troopers legally were justified in shooting Stambaugh to protect the lives of other law enforcement officers.
Boring’s decision came after he reviewed OHP’s internal investigation and videos of the incident.
The probable cause of Stambaugh’s death is listed as multiple gunshot wounds, and no drugs were detected, according to Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.
The incident began with the United States Marshal Service (USMS) attempting to execute a felony arrest warrant with the assistance of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD).
The warrant out of Canadian County was for sexual abuse of a child. It was not made public before the shooting, Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander said.
Neither he nor Vici Police Department were notified of the warrant or state law enforcement operation prior to the lockdown and subsequent evacuation of Vici Public Schools.
According to Boring’s letter, Stambaugh struck an agent with his vehicle in an attempt to flee agents after they activated emergency lights and announced themselves as law enforcement.
After a standoff lasting about three hours at Stambaugh’s residence, OHP tactical team was called in for assistance.
“During this time, Stambaugh would not communicate with any law enforcement, nor his father,” Boring stated in the letter. “Law enforcement continued to initiate communications with Stambaugh during this time without success.”
Yet, in a previous interview with the Woodward News, a Dewey County official said Stambaugh called the Dewey County Sheriff’s Office to talk to people he knew on the day of the incident.
“My undersheriff and I both talked to him several times while he was in the trailer house,” Sander said. “He said that he would turn himself over to the sheriff’s office, but he did not feel comfortable turning himself over to the marshals.”
Based on the footage of more than one video, Boring noted Stambaugh sprinting from his residence toward law enforcement.
“Even though Stambaugh had every opportunity to end the standoff in a peaceful manner, he chose to run directly at (troopers), armed with two Glock pistols and extra magazines,” Boring stated in the letter. “These troopers were placed in a terrible situation.”
Boring said his office has made multiple attempts to visit with Ben Stambaugh, Michael Stambaugh’s father, but was told his lawyer advised him not to talk to him.
Ben Stambaugh confirmed that his lawyer told him not to talk to the district attorney.
Fogleman writes for the Woodward News.