The men in blue aim to serve and protect not just our country but their families as well.
Sometimes, this desire to protect can turn into obsession and control, and that’s just what happened with one Oklahoma dad. When he learned something about his daughter’s boyfriend that he didn’t like, he took things way too far…
Who is Officer Shannon Kepler?
Officer Kepler, now 57, worked for the Tulsa Police Department, along with his wife, Gina Kepler. Both served in the force for the past 24 years, but the accomplishment they are most proud of is adopting their daughter Lisa.
Officer Kepler adopted Lisa from a homeless shelter when she was just 6-years-old. Despite her unknown past, Lisa settled in with the family just fine and grew to call the Kepler residence home. When she turned 18, however, Lisa’s opinion of the family changed…
Lisa began resenting her parents and said that she felt “hostage” in a place she’s supposed to call home. She grew unhappy with her father’s strict rules and she felt the only way to be able to do what she wanted was to lie. Lisa began sneaking out of the house and this angered her dad to no end. He began looking for a way to get his daughter on the right track.
The Homeless Shelter
Officer Kepler and his wife Gina decided to send Lisa to volunteer at a homeless shelter. At the shelter- Day Center for the Homeless, Lisa met a boy named Jeremy Lake, 19. They began dating but Lisa chose to keep Jeremy a secret from her parents as she did not want to anger them…
Instead, Officer Kepler had to learn about Lisa’s relationship with Jeremy through her Facebook profile. Since Lisa was not sharing any information with her parents about the new boy she was dating, Officer Kepler took it upon himself to do some detective work on Jeremy.
Using tools available through the Tulsa Police Department, Officer Kepler discovered Jeremy’s race- black, and also uncovered his address. It is not certain what other information he found but it was enough to pay a visit to his daughter Lisa who had been hanging out with Jeremy a lot lately.
4 Paying The Couple A Visit
One day when Officer Kepler was off duty, he drove in his black Chevrolet Suburban to Jeremy’s aunt’s home to see Lisa. When Kepler saw Lisa, he asked her what she was doing there, but she ignored him and walked away. Jeremy then approached Officer Kepler’s vehicle, introduced himself as Lisa’s boyfriend and reached out to shake Officer Kepler’s hand.
Things Turned Ugly
Kepler said he believed Jeremy was reaching for a gun so he started firing shots at him. “He’s bringing it, I’m bringing it,” Officer Kepler said. Jeremy’s aunt was outside at the time and she saw the whole thing go down…
After hearing three gunshots, Lisa started to run and was reportedly also shot at by her father, although the bullet missed. Jeremy, however, was not so lucky and was in critical condition. Lisa hid in a nearby bush and called 911 to tell them what happened and get Jeremy help while her father fled the scene.
While screaming and crying hysterically, Lisa told the dispatcher: “My dad came out here and he shot [my boyfriend]. My dad’s a cop. What the hell?” Former Tulsa Police Sgt. Michael Brown was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene and when Lisa identified her dad as the shooter he was in disbelief…
Officer Kepler Killed Jeremy Lake?
Sgt. Brown knew Kepler from work and he couldn’t believe he could commit such a heinous crime. But, about three hours after the shooting, Kepler turned himself into police, saying, “It was either him or me. I’m not going to stand there and get shot.”
Officer Kepler was immediately taken into custody, and he hired an attorney, Richard O’Carroll. O’Carroll now had to prove that Kepler was justified in the crime he committed since he claimed he was using “self-defense.” Kepler’s trial for first-degree murder began, but at the end, the jury was unable to agree on a verdict…
The case wound up being a mistrial. Kepler’s next two trials to follow both resulted in hung juries and the courts couldn’t believe it. The odds of this happening were not very high and Jeremy Lake’s family and friends were outraged.
An Unfair Trial?
Critics lashed out claiming that each jury only contained one black juror and they did not think this was fair. This was a case of a white father shooting his daughter’s African American boyfriend, and not to mention, Jeremy’s death took place during a tense time in the country. Just four days before, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer…
Tensions ran high and during Kepler’s fourth trial, Mary Goolsby, a forensic pathologist walked the jury through her markings of Jeremy’s injuries on a series of diagrams. She testified that Jeremy had been shot twice in the chest and neck and that he suffered “devastating wounds.”
He Could Have Survived
She also believed that Jeremy had a chance at survival if he was admitted for surgery within minutes of being shot. “The only evidence I have is that [Jeremy] was on the receiving end of a gunfight,” Goolsby said…
Gina Kepler Was Facing Charges Too
As Officer Kepler’s fourth trial continued, the jury decided to convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter, even though he stood trial for first-degree murder. Not only that but his wife, Gina Kepler, 48, was arrested on a complaint of accessory to murder after the fact.
Police said they were able to contact Gina Kepler by cellphone after the murder and that an agreement was reached to turn Officer Kepler over to detectives. “Within three hours, I think he felt the heat to a certain extent and turned himself in,” Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said. Now, there is “50 years of dedicated service to the city” between Shannon and Gina Kepler,” and their daughter Lisa is happy about it.
Lisa Wishes For The Worst Punishment For Her Parents
“I really hope they rot in prison for a very long time,” Lisa said of her parents. “I’m not scared of my dad.” Officer Kepler is now scheduled for sentencing on November 20, and advocates of police reform are celebrating this verdict.
A Rare Case
These advocates believe that Kepler’s case is a rare example of a white police officer being convicted over killing a black person. Another white Tulsa police officer, Betty Shelby, was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter in May over fatally shooting Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man.