Listen to this article here
(Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect comments from Rose State College Marketing Director Jim Vidmar.)
Residents expressed outrage on social media last week after an Oklahoma City police officer who once shot and killed a woman experiencing a mental health crisis gave a Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to campus police officers at a nearby college.
OKCPD shared tweets of Sgt. Corey Nooner conducting a mental health training at Rose State College on Friday, seemingly unaware of the blatant hypocrisy.
Residents and students were quick to call out Nooner’s record, with one user sharing a 2018 BBC interview in which Sgt. Nooner explained and defended his previous deadly actions.
Officer defends killing person experiencing mental health crisis
“I was forced into a situation where I didn’t have any other choice but to shoot and kill the individual,” Sgt. Nooner told the BBC reporter. “We were outside a school. She was armed with a very large knife. She wasn’t responding to my instructions.”
Notably, CIT trainings are meant to provide an “innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters” between police officers and people in crisis, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. The program’s goals include bringing the community together and giving officers more tools to ensure people experiencing a crisis are more likely to receive treatment than jail time. Instead, Sgt. Nooner gave a woman a bullet in a situation he now trains others to de-escalate.
“After the incident was over, I was able to be told that she had a mental illness,” Sgt. Nooner said. The BBC reporter asked him if he would have handled things differently after learning about the woman’s mental illness.
Nooner refuses to comment
“No, I don’t feel differently about it now. I have to make sure I go home to my family at night.”
Three years later, Nooner spent a week training campus police officers from across the state at Rose State College on how to interact with individuals in crisis.
Sgt. Nooner refused to respond to a request for comment. When asked to provide comment about CIT training in general, a public information officer for OKCPD referred The Black Wall Street Times to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. When told that local residents would appreciate hearing from the officer himself who conducted the training, the PIO repeated his previous statement, saying “I visited with Nooner and ultimately we’re gonna refer you to the Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. To this topic, I’m probably gonna end up referring you over there.”
Rose State College students react
But students at Rose State don’t want Nooner conducting trainings on their campus.
“He never should’ve administered this training because he shouldn’t have a job after murdering someone,” said Duron Wise, a political science major at Rose State. He’s also the vice president for the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition. Wise said he thinks the college should have chosen a different officer, at the very least.
He’s spent the last year working with fellow student activist Adriana Laws, president of the Collegiate Freedom and Justice Coalition, to fight against criminal injustices since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For her part, Laws has been working tirelessly on the city, county and state level to expand political participation and hold law enforcement accountable.
OKCPD one of the most deadly in the nation
“First and foremost, even if it wasn’t Sgt. Nooner, having the OKC police department train any officer anywhere is completely inappropriate,” Laws told The Black Wall Street Times, pointing to the city’s notorious record as the second-deadliest police department in the nation. It’s also the city where police shot and killed Bennie Edwards in December. Edwards was experiencing housing insecurity and had a history of mental illness.
“Rose State College is in Midwest City, 10 minutes down the street. It doesn’t make any sense as to why they wouldn’t have asked the police department that has a better track record. It just blows my mind that they would step outside of what we have right here and go find a killer to teach people how to deal with mentally ill citizens. That’s insane.” Laws said.
The Black Wall Street Times reached out to Rose State College President Jeanie Webb for comment, but a representative from the Rose State College Marketing Department responded instead, explaining that the college only acted as a “host” and does not have a police force of its own.
“Rose State confirms the training you are referencing was not training conducted by Rose State College. Only our facilities, the Student Union, were used for the community service training,” said Jim Vidmar, director of marketing. “Rose State has many rooms on campus available to the community. As the college did not set the agenda for this specific training program, the college cannot speak to the qualifications of any speakers/trainers.”