OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma police captain charged with manslaughter in the death of an unarmed teen "crossed the line" when he shot the 18-year-old, a prosecutor told a 12-member jury Tuesday.
Capt. Randy Harrison, a 23-year veteran of the Del City Police Department, had previously arrested 18-year-old Dane Scott Jr. on drug violations and had remained focused on him after Scott was released from jail, District Attorney David Prater told jurors during opening statements in Harrison's trial for first-degree manslaughter.
"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."
But defense attorney Doug Friesen said Harrison's use of deadly force was justified by Scott's actions before he was shot in the back on March 14, 2012.
"Dane Scott is dead as the result of the choices that Dane Scott made," Friesen said. "(Harrison) could not have done anything other than what he did do and not violate his oath."
A police affidavit says Harrison was trying to arrest Scott after a car chase and took a handgun from the teen. As Scott ran away, Harrison fired four times, with the fourth shot striking Scott in the back.
The affidavit says Scott was unarmed and posed no threat of death or great bodily harm. Harrison faces a minimum of four years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted of manslaughter.
After Harrison was charged last year, his attorney had 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.
The prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that evidence will show that Harrison had contact with Scott before the shooting. Scott had a background with drugs, including his arrest by Harrison while allegedly selling drugs near Del City High School in 2011.
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.
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.
The chase began when police tried to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation. The car, which had three occupants including Scott, fled and collided with a tractor-trailer in Oklahoma City.