WALTON COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida Sheriff is speaking out after the arrest of Terri White, the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
White was arrested and taken to jail for battery on July 20 during a family vacation after an altercation with a family member. The case was dropped but White issued this statement:
“I need to clarify that charges being reported by some have in fact been dropped. The case is closed.
My family has been affected by behavioral health issues just like countless other Oklahoma families. Last week while vacationing with family, one of my family members escalated to the point that it was overwhelming. I reacted by throwing water onto him from a cup to get him to stop. At that point he shoved me into a wall. I called law enforcement asking for help to deescalate the situation. To my dismay, the officer who came arrested me on a misdemeanor charge for throwing the water. Once I was able to talk with county officials about the incident, they immediately indicated they would not pursue a charge.
I believe that law enforcement in Oklahoma would have responded differently, and am thankful that they have the training and commitment to do so. I am resolved to help expand that response capability and greatly appreciate all they do. My family is not unique and is not immune from these issues which further strengthens my resolve to help other families in need.
I appreciate the many calls and texts of support from my friends and family.”
But now, the Walton County Sheriff is responding to the statement.
“In this situation, it's very apparent Ms. White is either unwilling or unable to accept the results of her actions. The simple truth is that she escalated this situation by berating and then approaching the victim. The victim was seated when she approached him and threw water in his face. This behavior is not what we would expect from professional adults in positions of trust.
After the media discovered the incident, Ms. White made statements implying her arrest would not have been made in Oklahoma. I doubt that to be the case. Ms. White seems to believe her position of authority places her above reproach. I would suggest to you, that it is this attitude that resulted in her sitting in the Walton County Jail.
The arrest was not dismissed on merit, but because this is a misdemeanor charge and all parties involved live in Oklahoma and were unwilling to cooperate. No one is ever the bad guy in his or her own story.
This call was handled to the letter of the law. When news broke, it would have been respectful of her to accept her role in the incident and move on. Not point fingers and place blame on our office.”
– Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr.