By Chris Willingham
First of two parts
Undersheriff Mike Manning got into a heated exchange with both Idabel Police Chief John Martin and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners John Williams Tuesday afternoon, when sheriff Kevin Clardy and Manning demanded all jail trust records from the county commissioners’ office, according to an officer’s body camera footage.
Clardy and Manning came to the county commissioners’ office with a letter from jail trust attorney Gary J. James, who was just hired recently, according to records.
The letter suggested Clardy to pick up all jail trust records and remove them from the commissioners’ office so they could “be maintained at the sheriff’s office in a secure location with limited access.”
Williams told this newspaper that no records would be removed from the commissioners’ office unless he reviews it and knows what those records are.
He said he believes any decision should be left to the jail trust board, not Clardy alone.
Moving such records would essentially move the principal office of the jail trust from the commissioners’ building to the sheriff’s department (which currently remains locked most of the day) while trust records are required to be available to the public during regular business hours.
Sources told this newspaper that the FBI is currently investigating the jail trust board.
Idabel police and Choctaw Tribal Police were called to a disturbance at the county commissioners’ office at 3:17 p.m., according to Idabel Police radio logs.
This newspaper obtained Idabel Police Officer Blake Bell’s body camera footage of the incident through an Oklahoma Open Records Act request Wednesday morning.
The body cam showed several Idabel police and Choctaw Tribal police officers, as well as deputies, jail administrator Larry Hendrix, Manning and Clardy.
Clardy and Martin had a cordial discussion prior to Manning arriving. When Manning arrived, he began screaming at Martin that the matter had nothing to do with him.
“I’m here because we were requested to be,” Martin said.
“You’re standing right in front of the door! I don’t care! You’re not telling me s—!” Manning yelled at Martin.
“There’s been a lot of s— going on,” Clardy said to Martin.
“You don’t need to be involved in this,” Manning said to Martin.
The police chief said he didn’t want to be there, but was requested to be there and that as soon as Williams arrived, he would leave.
“I don’t care! At all! This ain’t nobody else’s business. Nobody!” Manning exclaimed.
“Yall are wading into s— you ain’t got no business being in,” Manning said.
Martin reiterated that he would leave when Williams arrived.
Manning asked Martin if he worked for the county commissioners now.
“This is my building! (pointing at the ground). I run the security for this building. I’m the undersheriff,” Manning screamed.
“I run the security for all these buildings (pointing at the courthouse and jail). It’s my building! Mine. Don’t come down here and act like you’re going to stop me from doing something,” Manning yelled.
“It ain’t gonna work out for you. It ain’t gonna work out. I’ve had about all this crap I’m gonna take,” the undersheriff said.
Clardy told Martin, “I’ve requested the damned records they have no control over. The records are already missing and we know they’re missing. John Williams is apparently stupid, because he called the DA’s office, who called y’all.”
“What do you think he’s gonna do?” Manning said, referring to Williams. “You think he’s gonna stop us from getting them?”
Manning asked Martin who he was working for.
“I work for the people, just like y’all,” he said.
“Stop being shady,” Manning said. “Why are you being shady? Stop beingshady. I don’t pull up at your city hall and block you from getting something, do I? Shady sonsofbitches all over this place.”
Williams arrived at that point and Manning and Clardy went inside the commissioner’s office.
When this newspaper told Williams that it had information from a recent court hearing where it was revealed the FBI was investigating the jail trust, Williams said he not heard anything about it.
Williams and the other commissioners have scheduled a discussion with the jail trust board for Tuesday at 9 a.m.
By Chris Willingham