In an unusual case of a police officer charged with a crime for the on-duty shooting of a suspect, the manslaughter case of Del City Police Captain Randy Trent Harrison is set to begin today.
Harrison, 48, is charged with first degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 18-year-old Dane Garrett Scott, Jr.
Captain Harrison shot Scott in March 2012 as the suspect in a drug deal was attempting to flee. Although typically an officer is allowed to use deadly force to protect his or her own safety or to protect public safety, prosecutors say that Scott was unarmed and fleeing when he was shot in the back, and that his shooting was outside the bounds of acceptable use of lethal force by a police officer.
According to police reports, Scott was a known drug dealer who had been previously arrested by Captain Harrison:
Reports say that Scott was not only dealing drugs, but also driving without a license and transporting a loaded firearm in the vehicle. Allegedly, Harrison disarmed Scott, who then fled. Harrison fired three shots, missing the fleeing suspect, before firing a fourth shot that struck him in the back, fatally wounding him.
Prosecutors say the homicide was not justified, as the unarmed man was fleeing and no longer a threat, but a spokesman for the Oklahoma Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, says that the law allows officers to use deadly force to stop a violent felon who is fleeing.
Harrison's defense attorney notes that Scott was committing at least four crimes during and leading up to his shooting: eluding a police officer, assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and attempting to shoot and kill a police officer. The defense motioned for a dismissal of the case, but Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Deason denied the motion.
Oklahoma has permissive self defense laws, including a "stand your ground law" which says a person has no duty to retreat if confronted. However, the law is explicit in allowing justifiable homicide when a person's life is at stake. Harrison's case will likely hinge on whether the jury believes the Captain shot the suspect to protect the public from imminent harm or whether it believes he shot a man who was no longer a threat.
Read more about Oklahoma self defense laws on our website. Click here to find out more about murder and manslaughter defense.
- November 2011 - Harrison arrested Scott for dealing drugs near Del City High School.
- December 2011 - Harrison conducted surveillance of Scott's home and allegedly observed him selling marijuana.
- January 2012 - Harrison pulled over a car in which Scott was a passenger, and the driver admitted that Scott sold him marijuana.
- March 2012 - Scott was dealing drugs to passengers in his vehicle prior to the police pursuit that led to his death.