Anger as worker at Oklahoma pork plant shot dead by police after being fired

A refugee worker from Sudan was shot by police while working at a pork plant in Oklahoma  (Seaboard Foods)
A refugee worker from Sudan was shot by police while working at a pork plant in Oklahoma (Seaboard Foods)

Workers at a pork processing plant in Oklahoma are shocked and outraged after a disgruntled immigrant worker from Sudan was shot dead by the police.

Chiewelthap Mariar, 26, a refugee from Sudan, was shot by police officers while working in the Seaboard Foods meatpacking plant in Guymon on 9 January.

Guymon Police was called into the factory to deal with an “agitated and disgruntled employee”, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.

A co-worker of Mariar, who requested anonymity, told The Guardian he was fired for filming parts of the incident on his cellphone.

The eyewitness claimed that Mariar was sacked from his job by a supervisor on that day and was asked to finish his shift.

He said Mariar was confronted by the supervisor on the shop floor and soon police arrived to escort him from the site.

“I witnessed the entire thing, from when they started arguing with him until he was shot,” he told the newspaper.

“He had a company-issued band-cutter in his hand. When the police got to the plant, the guy was already working, minding his own business.”

In a statement, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said “produced a knife and began advancing on officers”.

“Officers attempted to de-escalate the situation before eventually deploying a taser. The taser was unsuccessful and Mariar continued advancing on officers at which point an officer fired his service weapon striking Mariar,” it added.

However, the eyewitness who also produced a video said he had a band-cutter in his hand while working before he was escorted out.

“They made him out to be a danger when they said he had a knife in his hand, when it wasn’t. And that’s wrong on so many levels,” the worker said.

He said they were asked to continue working and had them cover the scene with plastic.

“This company fired me for recording the truth they were trying to brush under the mat. They never asked me if I was OK. It was my first time seeing a guy get killed – and then I get fired.”

A spokesperson for Seaboard Corporation, the parent company for Seaboard Foods, said in a statement: “Following the incident, operations were ceased for the remainder of the evening and the following day, and we provided in-person counseling services for employees throughout the week, in addition to ongoing phone counseling services available 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Seaboard Foods said: “We express our heartfelt sorrow to Chiewelthap Mariar’s family, coworkers, friends and those affected by his death following an incident at our Guymon processing plant involving the Guymon Police Department on Jan 9”.

“Providing our employees with a safe work environment and their well-being is extremely important to us.”

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said they are investigating the shooting and agents will submit the report to the district attorney’s office.

The district attorney will determine whether or not to file charges against the officer involved.