Lessons from Stitt's son's drunken gun incident not about him, but what the episode made clear
Given the caveat my knowledge of the incident involving Drew Stitt, son of Kevin, about which so many remain up in arms, is necessarily limited to what I’ve read and viewed, I regret to inform that no harsher penalties should be awaiting the governor’s 20-year-old progeny.
Of course, I’d relish being on the “governor’s-son-treated-differently-because-he’s-the-governor’s-son” bandwagon, for little makes me happier than to see our state’s chief executive be embarrassed and exposed as the corrupt grifter he’s worked so hard to be since winning office … provided it happens to be the truth.
But it’s not.
Not in the closed arena in which we’re left to wonder if more than a deferred minor-in-possession prosecution — one likely to be deferred forever — should hang over the head of the governor’s son.
You can read the original reported story on the incident from KOKH Fox 25 in Oklahoma City, complete with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office’s incident/offense report, here.
You can read The Oklahoman’s first account of the incident here.
You can watch 32 minutes of Logan County Sheriff’s Lt. Katlin Long’s body-cam footage from the incident here.
You can also read KOCO-TV’s story here, in which the Oklahoma City ABC affiliate concluded, following a self-described “investigation,” Drew Stitt was actually treated more harshly than the typical minor in possession in Logan County.
In perhaps more detail than you’ve previously digested, here’s what happened:
• Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of “Guthrie Haunts” on Halloween night, Oct. 31, when a case of firearms — two pistols, two rifles — were found sitting in its parking lot.
• Drew Stitt informed Lt. Long the case was his, three of the guns were his, one was his father’s, prefacing all of it by first explaining his father is the governor.
• Having originally told Long he wasn’t intoxicated, Stitt then told her he’d been drinking after she mentioned the apparent dilation of his eyes.
• Long’s body-cam footage makes it clear what happened next, beginning with having Drew Stitt call his parents and handing her the phone.
“My concern is there is a gun case that was dragged out of your son’s truck and your son is intoxicated,” Long said. “Is there any way you guys can come pick up these firearms? He said that one of them belonged to his dad.”
• Stitt then made another call, presumably to his father, given what he said.
“Someone stole the gun case out of my truck, the Pelican case … Yeah, I was just hunting, like, literally, at 8 o’clock. Just send a trooper up here.”
To that, Long responds “No,” before saying “whatever” as she moves a few feet from Stitt. She then walks back toward him, close enough to hear his side of his ongoing phone conversation.
“You can just send a trooper up here,” Drew Stitt says. “Or I can call them if you want me to … OK, I’ll call the gatehouse and ask him … Calvin? I’ll call Calvin.”
• About two minutes later, Long calls, presumably, her superiors to inquire if it’s all right she release the firearms to a state trooper. By her responses, it’s clear she’s told it would be.
• There are many more details — 29 unopened Natural Light cans in Stitt’s vehicle, a black Dodge Ram, an additional rifle on its floor — though it would take forever to list them all.
Eventually, the trooper arrives, takes possession of the weapons and follows Stitt and his friends back to Stillwater in the previously mentioned Black Dodge Ram, driven by one of Stitt’s friends, a female designated driver.
It feels like a lot to produce only the possibility of a future minor-in-possession charge, but Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux made a strong case to KOCO little more could be done.
“Minor in possession was the only charge we had on this deal, because he wasn’t carrying the weapons, he wasn’t using the weapons, he wasn’t driving, he wasn’t causing a disturbance, so he couldn’t be arrested for public intoxication,” he said.
KOCO’s reporting also appeared to make clear, via an “open records request,” it was unusual Stitt face even the possibility of a future charge.
Typically, when the Logan County Sheriff’s office encounters a minor in possession, the alcohol is seized, the offender’s placed in the custody of one or two parents and no charges are filed, KOCO reported … which seems like a fine policy considering it’s a victimless crime and the paperwork’s hardly worth it.
So quit pulling your hair out long enough to see this from the wider angle in which righteous outrage is actually warranted.
There is no paywall today, for this is a column I’d rather get to the masses than collect from a few. Still, while a free subscription demands only your e-mail, please think about joining Oklahoma Columnist for $6/month, less if you purchase a whole year, and help me to keep this going. As always, thanks for reading — Clay
• Apparently, one may consume alcohol while in possession of firearms in Oklahoma. Perhaps you’ve crossed the line if they’re on your person or in your hands while under the influence. Hard to know because I’m not sure there are any gun laws in Oklahoma anymore. Whatever, it’s kosher to have them with you, near you, available to you, while under the influence.
Imagine if it weren’t.
Imagine if every husband or boyfriend to ever threaten his significant other or family with a gun — you know, like Herschel Walker’s family’s been through — faced stiffer charges because alcohol or drugs were found to be aggravating factors?
Maybe domestic violence would be easier to prosecute. Or red flag laws could be reconsidered in our Wild West state. Perhaps fewer people might die.
• We do not begrudge around-the-clock security due the governor and his family, but why does the Stitt family treat its security detail like errand boys.
Does the Oklahoma Highway Patrol also pick up the family’s prescriptions and dry cleaning? Does it stand line for concert tickets and walk their dogs? Does it do the laundry and pick up pizzas?
Are OHP troopers security or fixers?
I’m satisfied Drew Stitt is being dealt with correctly in the legal realm, but why did it become Trooper Calvin Symes’ (#789) — identified in Long’s report — job to pick up the governor’s son’s case full of guns.
If the entitlement’s not astounding, it’s at least embarrassing. And among those offended was Long, herself.
Though her body-cam footage doesn’t make it clear if she overheard Drew Stitt speaking to his father, her tone when she spoke to her own people about it was unmistakable.
“I asked Governor Stitt and his wife to come up here and retrieve the firearms because he’s 20 year’s old and he’s intoxicated,” she said. “And he was like, ‘I’ll just send a trooper.’”
• In case you’ve failed to put it together, the incident occurred on Oct. 31 and the first time any of it was reported — complete with a copy of Long’s report — was on Nov. 18, by KOKH Fox 25, coincidently owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, well known to push insane right-wing politics on its viewers in local markets just as Fox News pushes them nationally.
You don’t think KOKH or its overlords worked a deal to get the story exclusively, provided it wasn’t reported until well after election day, Nov. 8, do you?
Maybe not, for even if that occurred, there’s no guarantees The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, CNHI Oklahoma, The Frontier, Oklahoma Watch and every NPR affiliate in the state wouldn’t break the story in the interim.
So, suspicious, yes.
Also, perhaps, just a horribly regrettable sign of the times.
• Because 25 years ago, even had it slipped past Oklahoma’s two statewide newspapers, there’s almost no way it gets past The Guthrie Daily Leader.
Yet, old dailies like that are no longer dailies, have almost no staff or resources and certainly nobody working the crime beat full time.
It’s what’s become of local journalism.
The Oklahoman and Tulsa World’s staffs have been hollowed out beyond recognition, ditto for the Associated Press’ presence in the state.
Meanwhile, while online newsrooms, funded by right-minded benefactors, do fantastic jobs with investigations, they’re still not suited for daily, grind-it-out, goalie-standing-in-the-crease journalism.
The watchdogs have lost their bite.
• Kevin Stitt still deserves your scorn.
He’s not answered any questions about the incident, about anything he told his son as it happened, or in its aftermath, or why he thought it was all right to send the help, er, his security, to retrieve the guns.
As always, he remains unaccountable, offers nothing smart to say on matters of great public interest in the state he purports to govern, and goes along like nobody’s watching because it hasn’t stopped him yet.
In two weeks, a month, six weeks or tomorrow he’ll embarrass the state again for reasons we can’t possibly imagine only because the possibilities are endless.
Don’t fret over his son’s plight.
Drew Stitt doesn’t deserve more than he’s getting. He even sounded like a reasonably nice guy on Long’s body-cam.
Instead, fret over what the episode has confirmed and taught.
Gun laws are inadequate.
The Stitts see the OHP troopers who keep them safe as an extension of their personal needs, which is embarrassing and wrong.
Though the fix may have been in on the story, even if it wasn’t, news-collecting media here, there and everywhere need all the help they can get, so maybe buy a subscription or five, and if you’re a civic-minded billionaire, or just worth several million, maybe purchase a failing paper and run it as a non-profit in the public interest.
Also, Kevin Stitt remains above it all.
Which is to say, he’s above nothing at all.