OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The friend of a teenager who was fatally shot by an Oklahoma police captain testified Tuesday that the unarmed 18-year-old was running away when the officer began firing at him.
“It surprised me very much,” John Lockett, 17, testified on the first day of testimony in the trial of Del City police Capt. Randy Harrison, who is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the March 14, 2012, death of Dane Scott Jr.
Lockett said he was a passenger in a car driven by Scott when Harrison pulled up behind them in a police car with lights flashing. Lockett said Scott led Harrison on a high-speed chase and tried to hide the marijuana and gun he had in the car.
Scott, who had recently been released from a juvenile detention center for selling drugs, “just started to panic,” Lockett said.
Lockett said he and a second passenger pleaded with Scott to let them out during the chase that he said reached speeds of up to 100 mph. The car eventually crashed into a tractor-trailer.
Lockett said Scott and Harrison scuffled on the ground after the collision before Scott wriggled free. As soon as Scott started running away, Harrison started shooting at him, Lockett said.
Authorities say Scott fired four shots, with the fourth one fatally striking Lockett in the back.
Lockett said a second officer had hit Scott with an electrical stun gun about the same time the final shots were fired. Scott fell to the ground and Lockett said didn’t’ realize Scott had been shot until later.
“I had no idea he was gone until after the fact,” he said.
According to a police affidavit, Scott was unarmed and posed no threat of death or great bodily harm at the time of the shooting.
But defense attorney Doug Friesen said Harrison’s use of deadly force was justified by Scott’s actions before he was shot. The police affidavit says Harrison managed to get a handgun from Scott as the two wrestled before Scott ran off.
“Dane Scott is dead as the result of the choices that Dane Scott made,” Friesen said during opening statements. “(Harrison) could not have done anything other than what he did do and not violate his oath.”
Harrison, a 23-year veteran of the Del City Police Department, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge. He faces a minimum of four years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
Harrison had previously arrested Scott on drug violations, and District Attorney David Prater told jurors that Harrison remained focused on Scott after he was released from juvenile detention and turned 18, meaning Scott could be charged as an adult.
“It was something other than professional. It became personal,” Prater said. “Randy Harrison seemed obsessed with Dane Scott Jr. A police officer crossed the line.”
After Harrison was charged last year, his attorney said prosecutors’ decision was made in part to prevent the kind of racial discord that erupted after high-profile shootings in Florida and Tulsa. Scott was black; Harrison is white.
Scott was shot a few weeks after the death of Trayvon Martin, the black teen who was unarmed when he was shot in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. And Harrison was charged within weeks of the arrests of two white men accused of fatally shooting three black people in Tulsa during a shooting spree that investigators described as racially motivated.
According to police, Scott had previous convictions in juvenile court on misdemeanor drug charges and a pending felony case of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Harrison had arrested Scott as he allegedly sold drugs near Del City High School in 2011. Court papers indicate Harrison also saw Scott allegedly selling marijuana from his home. Scott allegedly was selling drugs to a passenger in his car before the pursuit that led to the shooting, according to court records.
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