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Pastor killed by state troopers had shoved one to ground, officials say

  • Nehemiah Fischer, 35. (Courtesy KOKI)

OKMULGEE, Okla. » A man shot dead after being told to leave a flooded area had grabbed a trooper and shoved him to the ground, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Monday.

At a news conference, the agency showed a police video in which two men — the Fischer brothers — tramp through water toward a pair of police officers. OHP spokesman Capt. Paul Timmons said Nehemiah Fischer, 35, knocked over one trooper before being shot.

Fischer’s father, J.R. Fischer, told The Associated Press on Monday that the behavior didn’t sound like that of his son, who was an assistant pastor at a Tulsa church who studied the Bible daily. The father described his son as "gentle as a dove with people who needed a hand."

"When it came to being a Christian man, he was the real deal," he told The Associated Press Monday in a telephone interview. "He walked the talk."

The other brother, Brandon Fischer, 41, was arrested on complaints of assaulting a police officer and public intoxication. Brandon bonded out of jail around 5:20 p.m., flanked by several people trying to shield him from reporters. He did not respond to questions.

An attorney who appeared at the bond hearing on behalf of the family declined to comment on the case, saying he had only received the information Monday morning.

According to police, the brothers were near a vehicle surrounded by floodwaters in Okmulgee County, about 20 miles south of Tulsa. The troopers told the men to get out of the water, Timmons said.

Before the video was shown to the public, J.R. Fischer said it wasn’t clear if his sons knew who had told them to get out of the water.

"If my son would have known that this was an officer, he would have never assaulted him," he said.

But Timmons said the video makes it clear that the troopers identified themselves as the men approached the officers. Only one trooper is visible in the video after the scuffle begins, and his gun is raised.

Timmons said both officers fired their weapons, including Trooper Mark Southall, who had been knocked to the ground. The other officer involved was Trooper Michael Taylor. Both were placed on administrative leave, Timmons said.

One officer has 8 years’ experience and the other has 1 year, though Timmons said he wasn’t sure which trooper had been with the force longer.

Troopers said they recovered a weapon belonging to Nehemiah Fischer at the scene. J.R. Fischer told the AP that his son had received a .380 handgun for his birthday.

Before the video was shown, Emma Foster, who served as the maid of honor at Nehemiah’s wedding, described the victim in an interview with AP as a man who "has never been in a physical fight his entire life."

Associated Press journalists Kelly P. Kissel and Ken Miller contributed to this report from Oklahoma City; AP photographer Sue Ogrocki contributed from Okmulgee.

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