Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office issues statement on officer in Tony Stewart confrontation

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Although an internal affairs investigation continues into the conduct of Cpl. Kyle Hess — involved in a confrontation while off duty with Tony Stewart at last week’s Chili Bowl Nationals — the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Friday on the matter.

The statement read:

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office takes seriously the conduct of its employees, whether on duty or off duty.

While we respect our employees’ rights to free speech, we also expect all of our employees to follow the TCSO’s Code of Ethics which each pledges to uphold as part of their employment and to set an example at all times.

Stewart went into the stands to confront Hess, who was heckling Stewart, according to witnesses. Video posted on social media captured the incident with Stewart approaching as Hess appears to say “I don’t like you.” They grabbed each other’s hands, and Stewart slipped as fans chanted “Tony.” Stewart and the fan argued briefly before the fan pushed Stewart back and fell backward. Stewart then leaned in to continue the discussion.

A security official with the event told the Tulsa World that Hess “probably had too much beer from my observation after speaking with him.” Dennis Larson, Tulsa Deputy Police Chief and Expo Square Liaison officer, also told the newspaper that Hess kept taunting Stewart, who was not competing in the event, when Stewart passed. Hess was escorted out of the event.

Stewart was asked about the incident Thursday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour but said: “I think the people that were there knew what happened, and that’s all. If anyone wants to know what happened, they should have been there to see it themselves. I’m not going to waste my time on a NASCAR Media Day talking about an event that happened a week ago.”