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Sheriff who is for cockfighting loses election, Sheriff who is against cockfighting loses coin toss

Two Oklahoma sheriffs flip a coin.

Two Oklahoma sheriffs flip a coin.

(Collage by Beth Clifton)

Atoka County voters threw Tony Head out of office, but multiple cockfight critic Chris Bryant is out in Carter County

ARDMORE, ATOKA, Oklahoma––Newly elected Atoka County Sheriff Kody Simpson and Carter County Sheriff DJ Long, who were “elected” by a coin toss, will be tested for the first time on their willingness to enforce Oklahoma’s cockfighting law when they take office in January 2025.

Simpson, a police officer for the city of Atoka, received “51.66 percent of the vote in the Oklahoma primary election on June 18, 2024, edging out incumbent Sheriff Tony Head, who received 36.57 percent of the vote,” Faithanna Olsson reported for NonDocan Oklahoma-based project of the Sustainable Journalism Foundation.

“A total of 1,504 Atoka County residents voted,” Olsson wrote.

Humpty Dumpty Humphrey

Humpty Dumpty Humphrey

Humpty Dumpty Humphrey and Sheriff Egg Head.
(Collage by Beth Clifton)

“Accused of informing cockfighters”

Head, the ousted incumbent after 12 years, “was at the top of the signature list of an April 2023 letter calling on the Oklahoma Legislature to reduce criminal penalties for cockfighting offenses,” Olsson recalled.

“Head was accused of informing cockfighting rings of possible raids and visits and of failing to enforce the law at cockfighting events,” Head said.

Who reported this? Not the local Atoka County media.

ANIMALS 24-7 did so on July 14, 2022, based on a comprehensive investigation by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness.

(See Who told the cockfighters in Atoka County that the police were coming?)

Atoka Sheriff Tony Head and Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey

Atoka Sheriff Tony Head and Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey

Tony Head, Sheriff of Atoka County, and Justin Humphrey, Oklahoma State Representative for the 19th District.
(Collage by Beth Clifton)

“Getting rid of Tony Head is good news”

“Getting rid of Tony Head is good news,” Kevin Chambers, state director of Animal Wellness Action in Oklahoma, wrote in an email.

“We have addressed the issue of cockfighting on social media in Atoka County over the past year and ANIMALS 24-7 “The article about him was widely shared,” Chambers said.

Atoka County is represented in the Oklahoma Legislature by Justin Humphrey, who has authored bills to decriminalize cockfighting in recent legislative sessions and has previously attempted to establish a Bigfoot hunting season.

Chris Bryant, Sheriff of Carter County.

Chris Bryant, Sheriff of Carter County.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant with confiscated cockfighting derby trophy.
(Facebook photo)

Coin toss in Carter County

In Carter County, DJ Long ousted incumbent Sheriff Chris Bryant, known for his outstanding enforcement of Oklahoma’s cockfighting law, from office on a coin toss on June 28, 2024.

In voting on election day, each candidate received 2,569 votes.

A nine-hour manual recount by four counters could not break the tie.

There is no apparent history of Long involving cockfighting.

Bryant was endorsed by two-term Republican former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and Animal Wellness Action Oklahoma.

Cockfighting bust

Cockfighting bust

Arrested for cockfighting: Gary Bauman, Chance Campo, John Gliby, Son Nguyen, Phillip Sanders and Larry Young. (Carter County Jail photo)

Bryant uncovered three cockfights in the county

“Sheriff Bryant and his deputies have busted three cockfighting events in the county,” Animal Wellness Action said in a press release. “Most recently, they have charged seven people for watching an illegal cockfighting event busted in April.”

“This is based on previous arrests of Catlin Gavitt and Darline Gavitt, who were charged with two criminal offenses, namely operating a cockfighting facility and possessing and carrying birds for fighting,” Animal Wellness Action continued.

“Showing Animals Respect and Kindness and Animal Wellness Action received a tip about the April 20, 2024 cockfight in Wilson, Oklahoma and passed that information on to Carter County authorities, who acted on the information about the illegal fight.

(See: Charges against alleged cockfight organizers; Charges against head of the Jagdfowl Commission.)

Anthony Devore. Cockfighting.

Anthony Devore. Cockfighting.

Anthony Devore. (Collage by Beth Clifton)

Leadership of the “Gamefowl Commission” arrested

“Last year,” Animal Wellness Action continued, “Sheriff Bryant and District Attorney Melissa Handke worked to bring charges against seven men, including 52-year-old Anthony DeVore, a head of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, “for offenses related to illegal cockfighting.”

The Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission is a cockfighting advocacy group. Despite its official-sounding name, it has no state authority.

Beth and Merritt with Henry the rooster.

Beth and Merritt with Henry the rooster.

Merritt & Beth Clifton with Henry the rooster.

“Four other individuals have been charged with misdemeanor offenses in connection with an event called the ‘Asian Gaff Championship,'” Animal Wellness Action said. At the June 2023 event, officials reportedly seized approximately sixty fighting cocks and confiscated twenty vehicles and trailers.

On this occasion, Chance Campo, then district manager of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, was arrested.

(See Charges against alleged cockfight organizers; charges against the head of the Gamefowl Commission.)

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