Del City Police Captain Found Guilty of Manslaughter

A Captain with the Del City Police Department was found guilty of manslaughter this week by a jury that was deadlocked initially. Capt. Randy Harrison was convicted of first-degree manslaughter after jurors found that he shot an unarmed man in the back, saying that the use of deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect was not justified, as the suspect was no longer a present threat to either officers or the public safety. Prosecutors say 18-year-old Dane Scott, Jr., was a known drug dealer with whom Capt. Harrison had prior run-ins and whom he had  previously arrested. On March 14, 2012, Scott led police on a chase, pulled a weapon on arresting officers, scuffled with police, and then attempted to run away after police disarmed him. As Scott tried to scale a fence, Capt. Harrison shot him in the back, saying that he believed Scott was reaching for another weapon. However, Scott was unarmed when Harrison shot him. Jurors initially declared that they were deadlocked, with one juror dissenting with the majority opinion, and another juror refusing to participate in deliberations. Harrison's defense lawyer motioned for a mistrial, but Judge Donald Deason refused a mistrial. Instead, he said the juror who refused to participate was violating her oath, and he replaced her with an alternate juror, sending the jury back into deliberations. They returned with a guilty verdict and recommended a sentence of four years. Sentencing is scheduled for January 8, 2014. After the jury returned with a guilty verdict, some fear that the conviction will cause officers to hesitate in making difficult decisions to use lethal force to subdue a suspect who may be a threat to their own safety or to the public safety. Others, however, say that lethal force is not necessary against a person who  may no longer be a threat, and they argue that law enforcement agents should not rush to judgment and should exercise extreme caution in determining whether to use deadly force in  the line of duty. Even District Attorney David Prater acknowledged the difficulty of this case, saying, "There are no winners in a case like this. . . . Dane Scott does not come back with this verdict. Randy Harrison, previously a good officer, loses his freedom and is going to be separated from his family a good number of years. This is a tough case. . . . I pray for Dane Scott's family, I pray for Randy Harrison and his family, and I'm glad it's over.” The police captain's incarceration could necessitate special accommodations. As a 25-year veteran of the police force, Harrison could face threat from inmates who wish to harm him for no other reason than his law enforcement career. According to Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Myers, Harrison will be segregated from the general population during his incarceration. Harrison plans to appeal his conviction. One issue that will likely be raised on appeal is Judge Deason's decision to replace an uncooperative juror with an alternate juror. Visit our website to learn more about justifiable homicide and manslaughter, or click here to find a defense attorney equipped to handle your criminal case or appeal.

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