PAWHUSKA, Okla. - Investigators from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA Internal Affairs and the Justice Department have been trying to shed some light on the shooting death of John A. Tallchief following an incident at the Wakon Iron gaming facility.
The shooting occurred about 6:30 p.m. July 10, in the Pawhuska Indian Village. Earlier, police received a report of a man pointing a firearm at individuals on Main Street and some two hours later, the suspect Tallchief was pronounced dead on arrival at a Tulsa hospital.
BIA Investigators issued a press release saying the suspect was located in the Pawhuska Indian Village. Officers stopped the suspect's vehicle. Two officers, weapons drawn, repeatedly ordered the suspect out of his vehicle, but Tallchief continued to move around the front seat of his pickup truck.
They reported that Tallchief exited the vehicle and allegedly rushed toward one of the officers who ordered him to stop several times as he retreated. But Tallchief continued charging the officer, at which time the officer fired one shot that struck Tallchief in the chest. He was taken to the Pawhuska Hospital by ambulance and later transferred by life-flight to Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa where he was pronounced dead.
Osage Nation Tribal Police Officer John Drexel has been placed on routine suspension with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. Drexel declined to comment on the incident until the investigation is completed.
The Osage County District Attorney's office confirmed that this episode was not the first Tallchief had with the law. He was convicted in 1992 and 1995 on charges of assault and battery and was on probation at the time of his death. The Osage County District Court also confirmed that charges of assault and battery and domestic abuse and some protective orders had all been filed with the district court.
A relative who asked not to be identified, remembered Tallchief as an angry man, something confirmed by a source close to the investigation.
"He had a reputation for being the local bad-ass thug," the source said. "Apparently he had threatened a couple of people and has a reputation for doing this.
Guns were recovered at the scene, but the source didn't know if Tallchief was armed when he charged the officer, adding that Tallchief's wife, Michelle, was in the vehicle during the incident, but didn't say if she was being charged with anything at this time.
Attempts to reach Michelle Tallchief and other family members were unsuccessful.
Investigators said they weren't sure what provoked the final incident, but hoped the ongoing investigation will shed some light on his violent death.