Subject reportedly involved in incident at the State Capitol arrested in Ponca City

March 7, 2023 | Police

PONCA CITY — A subject involved in an incident that occurred at the state Capitol last week was arrested by authorities in Ponca City on Monday.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Eric Foster said that on Feb. 28  a protestor threw water on a representative as lawmakers were going into recess. 

Protestors were at the capitol protesting on behalf of transgender rights.

Foster said as troopers attempted to stop the protestor who threw the water, another, later identified as 22-year-old Austin Allen Ross, stepped in front of the trooper and impeded their progress.

“The trooper did make his way through the crowd and was detaining the subject who threw the water when Ross interfered with the arrest again,” said Foster.

Austin Allen Ross

Foster said troopers ordered Ross to stand down and that he did comply and that the other subject was arrested. 

“Afterwards troopers decided to try and talk to the obstructor,” (Ross) said Foster. “They learned that he was hiding in a representative’s office who refused to let the trooper in the office.

After a discussion the representative, later identified as Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, opened the door and allowed troopers in.

Foster said OHP presented a report to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office and prosecutors elected to file a charge against Ross. On March 2 a warrant was issued for Ross’ arrested with bond endorsed at $5,000.

He was arrested by officials in the 1500 block of Crawford and booked in the Kay County Detention Center where he is awaiting transport to Oklahoma County. Foster said the arrest was peaceful. (see related story)

Today law makers announced that the Oklahoma House censured Turner for impeding a law enforcement investigation.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, released the following statement: 

“Last week, a member of the House of Representatives and a highway patrolman were assaulted after an otherwise peaceful protest turned violent.  (see related story)

Following this assault, one individual was apprehended by law enforcement while another involved in the incident fled the scene. It came to the attention of law enforcement that the individual who fled was hiding in the official office of a member of the House.  This member knowingly, and willfully, impeded a law enforcement investigation, harboring a fugitive and repeatedly lying to officers, and used their official office and position to thwart attempts by law enforcement to make contact with a suspect of the investigation.

I want to make something very clear: I will not allow members of the House of Representatives to use their House assigned offices and official positions to impede law enforcement from carrying out investigations or making arrests in the State Capitol. Our law enforcement officers leave their homes every day to serve and protect us, never knowing if it might be the last time they see their families. The House stands by our law enforcement, and will not allow what is an already dangerous and unpredictable job to become more dangerous due to the actions of a member of our body. The inappropriate, and potentially criminal, actions exhibited by this member of the House were deserving of censure, and the actions taken by the House today were both measured and just.”

House Republicans voted to remove Turner from all of their committees.

House Democrats issued a  statement that Republican lawmakers wrongfully accused Rep. Turner of harboring a fugitive during the peaceful protest of the anti-transgender legislation HB 2177 on Feb. 28 at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson said Rep. Turner did not impede the investigation or prevent law enforcement from performing their duties. Rep. Turner cooperated fully and completely with the investigation.

“I just provide my office as space of grace and love for all the folks in all communities that seek refuge from the hate in this building. Trans people don’t feel safe here. I receive death threats. I am a target daily in this building, yet I am silenced,” Rep. Turner said.

“This is a historic display of inhumanity by House Republicans to silence anyon who is different from them. It is a manifestation of ignorance and hate,” said Rep. Munson.