- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) - A marijuana advocate is suing a northeastern Oklahoma sheriff who he alleges grabbed him by the throat and escorted him out of a community forum on a state ballot measure on medical marijuana.

Court records show Charles “Chip” Paul filed the lawsuit June 20 against Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton. The lawsuit says Paul spoke quietly to his wife and a deputy and tried to ask questions during the meeting in Claremore, but wasn’t disturbing the event. Paul alleges Walton used excessive force and violated his civil rights by forcibly removing him.

The lawsuit also alleges assault and battery by Walton and seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

Walton couldn’t be reached Wednesday, but he told The Claremore Daily Progress that he was only doing his job and has no regrets.

Forum attendee Ashley Mullen-Lowry captured Facebook live video of the incident. Walton said at the time that he believed the situation was orchestrated to cause disruption.

Paul says he had turned to speak again to the deputy, but a different deputy was there and he was then confronted by Walton.

The video shows Walton behind Paul, with his hands around Paul’s neck and walking him out of the building. Once outside Walton turns Paul around and against a wall, then orders him to leave.

Paul then walks away.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has said Walton’s actions “signal a disturbing reliance on government force to silence political speech.”

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved the proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

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