Bethany officer cleared of wrongdoing in deadly shooting

BETHANY, Okla. – A Bethany officer will be returning to duty following the results of an investigation into a deadly shooting earlier this year.

In February, officers were called to a domestic assault near N.W. 36th Terrace and Council Rd. after the alleged victim went to the police station to report a crime.

“She came to our station and advised that she had been assaulted by her son at the home,” Chief Phil Cole, with the Bethany Police Department, told NewsChannel 4 in February.

When officers went to the home, a man holding a gun came to the door.

“He had it laying against his chest,” said Cole. “When our officers saw the man was armed, they stepped back and drew their weapons. They ordered him several times to drop the gun.”

Police say the officers didn’t initially shoot because the man, who was identified as James McMullen, didn’t point the gun at them. But then things changed.

“At some point during their verbal challenges, the suspect did point the weapon at officers. One of my officers fired multiple shots, hitting the suspect,” said Cole.

McMullen was rushed to a nearby hospital, but later died from his injuries.

The officer who fired the fatal shot, Officer Matt Branscum, was placed on administrative leave while the shooting was investigated.

On Tuesday morning, the Bethany Police Department announced that the shooting was justified.

“District Attorney Prater determined that Officer Branscum felt it necessary to employ deadly force to defend himself from a threat of great bodily injury or death,” the release stated.

Officer Branscum is expected to return to full duty in the next few days.

“Any loss of life is tragic and no officer ever wants to be in that situation. We are pleased that our officer’s actions were deemed lawful,” the release stated.