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Trooper Terry Dickson

TERRY DICKSON – OHP:
In 1987, OHP Trooper Terry Dickson made a routine traffic stop of a Texas-registered vehicle in front of McCoy’s Lumber Company in Ardmore. A young Black man, later identified as Michael Whitmill, was in the driver’s seat of the stopped car from Texas.

Whitmill, the subject of an arrest warrant from Texas, didn’t want to go to jail, so without warning, he rapidly drew a revolver and shot Terry in the head, clearly with intent to murder the young trooper. All hell broke loose and within a short time, Michael Whitmill was arrested.

A near riot developed at the Carter County Courthouse when Whitmill was brought to the courtroom of the judge by a cadre of local officers and OHP troopers. People were screaming at the young arrestee, “Why did you shoot Terry, you bastard?” Yelled one. “You scum! We should kill you now!!!” Screamed another onlooker.

Finally, things settled down some and the magistrate set a $1,000,000 bond for the defendant. Of course he never posted the bail. None of the lawyers in Ardmore would represent the young would-be killer.

A month later, a court-appointed lawyer from a town 30 miles away called me. This was the conversation:
“James, I’ve been appointed by the court to represent Michael Whitmill. You’ve been around a long time, and I need to know: Is there any chance, however slight, that Terry Dickson said a racial slur to Whitmill? Much worse, does Dickson have any reputation as a racist?”

I pondered the questions a few seconds, then replied: “My answer is this: If your client contends that Terry Dickson uttered a racial slur toward him, he’s lying. Better yet, at trial, put 12 Black Carter County citizens in the jury box, no whites, and I guarantee you the jury will unanimously convict your client of Shooting with Intent to Kill and give him the maximum punishment.

”Michael Whitmill later pleaded guilty to shooting OHP Trooper Terry Dickson with intent to kill him. District Judge Woodrow George sentenced him to 101 years in prison and he deserves to die there. He shot & grievously wounded a fine example of mankind, who never recovered.
-james a clark