GUTHRIE — A longtime metro-area police officer and current spokesman for a statewide firearms instructor organization said prosecuting a Del City police captain for shooting a fleeing man in the back and killing him will set a dangerous precedent in Oklahoma.
Del City police Capt. Randy Harrison is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the March 2012 shooting death of a man who led police on an afternoon car chase in the minutes before he was shot.
Harrison, who is on paid leave from the department, told investigators that he felt like Dane Garrett Scott Jr., 18, was a threat to him and other officers in the area. The officer had struggled with Scott and disarmed him before the suspect ran away.
In March, Oklahoma County District Judge Donald L. Deason denied a defense attorney's motion to dismiss the criminal case against Harrison. His case is pending.
James Bowen, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, told reporters at a news conference held Wednesday that Harrison was “clearly justified” to shoot Scott, even though the young man was unarmed and running away.
“The state's decision to charge in this case has created a conflict with our current training,” Bowen said. “It causes us to have uncertainty ... why is our training not being supported in court.”
Bowen said officers are trained to react in an instant and that “if what (Harrison) did was wrong,” then police officers nationwide risk going to prison for doing what they've been taught to do. He repeatedly told reporters that Scott tried to shoot and kill Harrison.
“In a case like this, an officer is supposed to use deadly force to prevent a violent, fleeing felon from getting away,” Bowen said.
Bowen also defended Harrison's decision to shoot Scott in the back.
“A violent, fleeing felon frequently presents no other target,” he said.
Harrison's manslaughter trial is set for Nov. 18, court records show.