NORMAN, Okla. -- Video of an Oklahoma University football star punching a woman in the face inside a restaurant has finally been made public.
It has been over two years since running back Joe Mixon was suspended for punching Amelia Molitor in a restaurant on Campus Corner.
Molitor suffered several broken bones in her face, and Mixon entered an Alford plea to the assault charges, according to KFOR-TV. An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain innocence while acknowledging that the prosecution would likely win a conviction if the case went to trial.
Mixon was also suspended from the football team for one season.
Surveillance videos at the restaurant captured the whole event on camera.
Video shows Amelia Molitor shoving and hitting Mixon, and Mixon responding by punching her in the face and then leaving the scene. What preceded the altercation is not clear in the footage.
The city of Norman, the Norman Police Department and the district attorney all refused to release the video.
However, later, a small group of media members were allowed to view the video.
The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters sued the City of Norman and the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office to get a copy of that tape, saying it should be allowed under Oklahoma’s Open Records Law.
On Dec. 6, 2016, the Supreme Court agreed, and said “The defendants must allow Association a copy of the surveillance video.”
At issue, was the definition of arrest.
The City of Norman said a warrant was never actually issued for Mixon’s arrest and Mixon voluntarily appeared in court to answer to the charge, making it an exception from the part of the Open Records Act that requires law enforcement agencies “to make available for public inspection facts concerning an arrest.”
“In this case, a warrant was never issued. And, a lot of those cases where people show up just to appear to answer for the charge, sometimes a warrant is issued, sometimes it isn’t,” said Norman Assistant City Attorney, Rick Knighton. “Joe Mixon was not treated any differently than all of the people that appear voluntarily to enter those pleas on a daily basis.”
“A judge ordered him to be processed. A judge ordered bail to be set. Our position was all that constitutes an arrest,” said David McCullough, attorney for the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters.
The Supreme Court agreed, saying in their decision “Mixon was arrested, and the video is a record of the facts leading up to the arrest.”
So, the law “requires the video be made available to the public.”
“Any time you have access to a record under the Open Records Act, it’s a win for transparency,” McCullough said.
Mixon’s attorneys sent out this statement concerning the ruling:
“Joe was not a part of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters’ lawsuit. He never intervened to try to prevent the release of the surveillance video of the incident, which occurred more than two years ago. Many members of the media previously viewed the video, and have reported in great detail about what is shown.
Joe has apologized for the way he reacted that night. He has served the punishments handed down by the court and the university. If copies of the surveillance video are now to be released to the media, he hopes that this release will help put this matter to rest.”
On Friday, that video was finally released by Mixon's attorneys. Mixon's attorney also provided KFOR with a letter, stating:
"Our client, Joe Mixon, has asked us to provide your organization with copies of surveillance video, which we recently obtained from Amelia Molitor's attorneys, recorded at Pickleman's Gourmet Cafe on July 25, 2014. I have enclosed a DVD containing these videos. One of these recordings is the subject of the lawsuit filed by the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters against the City of Norman, the Norman Police Department, and the Cleveland County District Attorney's office. This recording shows an altercation between Ms. Molitor and Mr. Mixon inside Pickleman's Cafe. Ms. Molitor's attorneys also provided us with a second surveillance video showing the entrance to the restaurant during the same time period. In its recent decision in the OAB lawsuit, the Oklahoma Supreme Court directed the Cleveland County District Attorney to order that the City of Norman provide OAB with a copy of the recording in which the altercation can be seen.
Ms. Molitor's attorneys apparently obtained both recordings form the Cleveland County District Attorney's Office two years ago. Mr. Mixon has not previously been in possession of the videos, and has never been involved in any of the legal efforts to prevent access to them. While Mr. Mixon is not a party to the OAB lawsuit and has not been directed by the Court to make any disclosure, he does not see any reason for the release of the recording at issue in that lawsuit to be delayed any longer. Further delay appears only to be generating unfounded speculation about what is shown in that video. We also see no reason to withhold the second recording we received from Ms. Molitor's attorneys and so have included it as well.
We have consulted with the attorneys for both the City of Norman and the Cleveland County District Attorney's Office. They do not object to us providing copies of these recordings to OAB and local news outlets now, rather than waiting for the case to be returned to the Cleveland County District Court for a final order."
Mixon's attorney said that he is sorry for the way he reacted that night and has publicly apologized to Molitor, her friends, his family, teammates and the University of Oklahoma.
The University of Oklahoma released a statement after Mixon's attorneys released the surveillance footage:
"University officials were made aware of the content of the video prior to taking action with respect to Joe Mixon. Based on that information, the university immediately suspended and removed Mr. Mixon from the football team for one year, during which high standards of conduct were expected and maintained. It was made clear to Mr. Mixon at the time of his suspension that violence against women will not go unpunished at the university. Coach Stoops has been proactive in presenting training for his team aimed at preventing such behavior in the future. Sensitivity training in the area of violence has been intensified and best practices will continue to be implemented. Mr. Mixon has apologized for his actions and the university hopes that it is an indication that he has learned from his mistakes. We are an educational institution where we hope young people will learn from their mistakes and chart a better future course."
KFOR-TV published this statement along with their report on the video's release:
Our democracy is defined by open government.
When access to open records is limited or eliminated altogether, transparency dies and our system of government suffers.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized that and made sure that two years worth of denying the public's right to know came to an end.