Assault Case Involving Former Muskogee Police Officer Referred To Federal Officials | New
TAHLEQUAH – Prosecutors have provided tribal and federal officials with law enforcement reports that they used to lay a charge of aggravated assault against a former Muskogee police officer.
A Cherokee County judge ordered the felony charge dismissed after Mark Vernon Ridley Jr. presented evidence showing he is a registered member of a federally recognized tribe. Because the alleged crime occurred “on Indian land that has not been destroyed” and the accused is a Native American, the state of Oklahoma has no jurisdiction to prosecute the case.
Ridley, who is serving a 10-year deferred sentence in Muskogee County for kidnapping and assaulting his ex-wife, is accused of grabbing a woman’s wrist and breaking it as she tried to help a friend involved in an altercation. Witnesses allege that the events occurred on February 5 at Dam Bar north of Fort Gibson.
Mindy Pinord, according to an affidavit filed by Cherokee County MP Jimmy Tannehill in support of the arrest warrant application, pushed her way through a crowd gathered around the altercation. Along the way, she encountered a man, later identified as Ridley, who allegedly cursed her and squeezed her wrist until it broke.
An arrest warrant issued in May was recalled on October 15 after his lawyer, Janet Bickel Hutson, arranged for his surrender on Wednesday. A motion was filed during the interim, alleging that the state lacked jurisdiction because of the decision of the United States Supreme Court which determined, for federal criminal law purposes, that Congress did not never removed the Muscogee Nation reserve.
Oklahoma courts have since ruled that the same applies to other federally recognized tribes of Oklahoma who were granted land by treaties on terms similar to those the Supreme Court considered in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Jordan said he was surprised there was no mention of Ridley’s tribal affiliation in law enforcement reports. He was also surprised that the question did not arise when Ridley’s attorney called and requested a recall of the pending warrant.
“What we do when we are required to defeat a McGirt motion is forward the reports to federal authorities to determine if it falls under major crimes law,” Jordan said. “We also pass the reports on to the tribal authorities, and we let these two deal with it.”
Jordan said it would be up to federal prosecutors to determine whether the alleged crime in state court would be considered a federal crime under the Major Crimes Act.