Local News

January 26, 2012

Dismissed deputy has former record

— A Grady County deputy who said he was fired Tuesday for exposing department misconduct was charged in Florida in 2009 with one felony count of illegal interception of communication.

Christopher Ryan Lake, 39, was interviewed by Oklahoma City News 9 and information published on the news station website said Lake claimed to have been fired for being a whistleblower.

The claim stems from Lake’s allegation that Grady County Sheriff Art Kell did not notify neighboring departments that murder suspect George Rouse was on the run for (recently) killing his friend and was suicidal, the website stated.

A photocopy of what was believed to be an internal e-mail exchange from the sheriff’s office and dispatch was brought into the Express-Star office and shown to staff by a man who identified himself as a former deputy (not Lake). He claimed instructions were given by the sheriff’s office not to share information that Rouse was suicidal, which could endanger officers from other agencies.

Kell said the photocopy in question was from an internal mobile cop communication. Assistance had already been requested from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service. Rouse’s general location was already known and it wasn’t necessary to share information with additional law enforcement agencies.

“We had reliable information that he (Rouse) had left Grady County immediately after this (the death of Danny Ray Franklin) happened. Information was obtained that he (Rouse) was in a motel room in Oklahoma City and was headed out-of-state,” Kell said. “We knew he was not in Grady County. This was an absolute joint effort with the marshals and OSBI.”

Kell said a statewide BOLO (Be On The Lookout) was issued by the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center at some point in the afternoon which alerted agencies of the possible “suicide by cop” possibility with Rouse.

The sheriff would not confirm the reason Lake was fired, citing the confidentiality of personnel records.

Information posted on News 9’s website said a source told a news station employee that Lake had a misdemeanor conviction in Key West Florida.

A search of records, including a photo, obtained online from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Florida show that Lake was arrested on Sept. 16, 2009, for an offense of eavesdropping - illegal interception of communication.

Information about the charge was not available at press time and an attempt to contact Lake was not successful. A directory search came up with an unlisted phone number.

Online records detail from the Monroe County Clerk of the Circuit Court show that the case did not go to trial and Lake was not convicted of a felony. The May 20, 2010 court minutes note a plea/sentence. Details were not available but show that on May 21, 2010, he requested and was granted an unopposed emergency motion to allow him to carry a firearm for work purposes.

In June 2010 a motion was filed to modify Lake’s sentence and several days later a motion in the court minutes was documented to modify probation.

“Unfortunately at the time Ryan was hired, I trusted the people in my department with the background checks and they either didn’t discover or disclose his previous record to me,” Kell said. “Because of incidents like these is why those people are no longer here.”

Kell said this is the second time someone was hired who had a criminal record and has since left the department.

“After any major case or investigation where multiple agencies are involved, you take what you learned from it – good, bad, indifferent – and you learn from it,” Kell said. “That’s what we intend to do.”

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