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Tulsa man paralyzed from fall during May 2020 protests sues city, Oklahoma Highway Patrol

blm rally i-244.jpg
Posted at 10:33 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 13:33:53-05

TULSA, Okla. — A man who was paralyzed after a fall during a local Black Lives Matter rally in May 2020 has sued multiple agencies, including the city of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP).

The lawsuit alleges "deliberate indifference" by local authorities led to his debilitating injuries.

Thomas Knight, who said he was attending the rally with his family, was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from a highway overpass during the demonstrations.

The rally began in downtown Tulsa's Greenwood District. According to the lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday, Knight followed the crowd as it entered an access ramp and went onto I-244.

The lawsuit alleges the Tulsa Police Department funneled the crowd onto the I-244 access ramp.

Demonstrators walked onto the highway, blocking traffic. Among the vehicles blocked by the demonstrators was a horse trailer, and witnesses say the driver brandished a weapon. The document also cites videos that allegedly show people crowding the truck and the driver running over demonstrators.

The crowd surrounding the truck dispersed. That's what the lawsuit says caused Knight to fall from the overpass and break bones in his spine.

Knight is suing the city of Tulsa, OHP and the driver of the truck who allegedly brandished a weapon, who remains unidentified. He's also suing Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, 15 unnamed TPD officers and 15 unnamed OHP deputies.

"(Knight's) injuries were eminently preventable and should never have happened," the lawsuit said. "Had the Defendants taken even the most basic of precautions, Plaintiff (Knight) would not have lost the use of his legs and his suffering, and his family's suffering, could have been spared."

The suit also alleges that OHP did nothing to assist the truck driver through the crowd and failed to exercise care regarding the flow of traffic, as well as negligence from the truck driver.

Knight is also suing John Scully, the former Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, which oversaw the OHP at the time. The lawsuit also names Brent Suggs, former Chief of Patrol of the OHP.

Knight is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

When asked for comment, the city of Tulsa and OHP both said that they do not comment on pending litigation.

This story was originally published by Katie Keleher on Scripps station KJRH in Tulsa.