A Muskogee Federal Court judge recently ruled in support of an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation officer who shot and killed an illegal fisherman during a fight in 2015.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly E. West made the ruling that upheld the April 26, 2015 shooting death of Billy Patrick as he tried to drown State Game Warden Jared Cramer.
A Muskogee court had originally ruled in 2017 that Cramer lacked “qualified immunity” in a lawsuit filed by Patrick’s estate. The estate had sued claiming excessive force and negligence. But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reversed the lower court’s determination and sent the case back to Oklahoma.
Judge West granted the Wildlife Department’s motion for summary judgment.
The shooting happened as Warden Cody Youngblood found Patrick and two others illegally fishing at a rural Adair County pond. Warden Cramer heard radio traffic about two of the individuals who faced arrest warrants in Arkansas. Cramer went to assist Youngblood and became involved in a fight as he attempted to place Patrick under arrest.
Testimony showed Patrick tried to flee and Cramer tackled him and rolled into the pond. During the fight, Patrick was on top of Cramer who was under the water. When Patrick rose up out of the water, Cramer pulled out his service gun and shot him twice, killing him.