Teen claims he was assaulted at tow truck business in incident caught on video

by: Katie Higgins, Fox23.com Updated:

SAPULPA, Okla. - A teen says he was assaulted at a tow truck business in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, over the title of his car, and part of the incident was caught on video.

Christian Heath, 17, is on the academic team at Broken Arrow High School. He's a member of the National Honor Society who hopes to go to the University of Oklahoma.

He says he totaled his car a couple weeks ago, but he never expected what happened when he went to go pay the towing company.

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"He jams his elbow into my stomach where I can't breathe whatsoever, so I push him off me, and his buddy tightens his grip on my neck," Heath told KOKI on Monday. "Boy, that hurt so bad."

Heath went to A&W Towing in Sapulpa to pay a bill and retrieve items out of his car.

"I just came up and I was like, 'Hey, I'm here to get my car,' Heath said, "and [Paul Hulbert] said, 'OK, do you have the title?"

That's when Heath said the trouble started.

He said his dad had just bought the car from him, and the title wasn't in his name, but the previous owner had signed the back.

"So, he gives me title, and I go inside to make a copy of it," said Hulbert, the owner of the company, "which we always do."

Hulbert said the signature was hard to read. 

Heath said he was on the phone with his dad, who told him to take the title and leave.

"He just walked off with it inside, with his copy and my title, so I just swiped it out of his hand," Heath said. "I didn't touch him. I made sure not to touch him."

Hulbert had a different story.

"[Heath] grabbed the stuff out of my hand, knocked me down, knocked my glasses off," Hulbert said. "Then, my friend, who was here, came over and helped me and held the kid down, so we could get our paperwork back."

Video footage taken by one of Heath's friends shows what happens next.

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In the video, two men appear to hold Heath down on the ground. A man seen in the video with his arm around Heath's neck does not work at A&W. Heath can be heard saying that he can't breathe.

"I said, 'If you're being choked, you wouldn't be screaming,'" Hulbert said.

"I was scared at one point I was going to die," Heath said.

Video shows Heath saying that one of the men used racial slurs in the incident.

When KOKI asked Heath if he thought race played into the incident, he said he did.

"He didn't want to do business with me whatsoever," Heath said. "I think he thought the car was stolen."

Hulbert said race wasn't an issue.

"Anyone who looks at that thing can tell I didn't say anything to him," Hulbert said. "It wasn't racially biased at all. I mean, I didn't even know he was black. He's real light-skinned. I thought he was an Indian or Mexican."

The Creek County Sheriff's Office did respond to the scene after Heath asked his friends to call 911.

Heath was put in handcuffs and taken into a patrol car, but he was later released.

Heath and his family have hired an attorney.

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