Jury finds Del City Captain Randy Harrison guilty of manslaughter
Almost 24 hours after the case went to the jury, the 12 members found Randy Harrison, a Del City Police Captain guilty of manslaughter in the death of an 18-year-old.
Court officials began making their way into the courtroom around 3:15 Tuesday, after the jury told the judge they had reached a verdict. About 10 minutes later, the jury's verdict was announced as guilty.
Harrison will be sentenced January 8th at 1:30.
Prosecutors successfully argued Harrison crossed the line when he shot 18-year-old Dane Scott Jr. in March 2012 in the back. Scott was unarmed at the time.
After the announcement, friends and family of Scott were in tears after hearing the verdict. They weren't alone. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater broke down in tears as he visited with the media and said there are "no winners in this case".
Earlier in the day, a juror who refused to participate in the decision was replaced by the alternate.
The case of Randy Harrison went to jury Monday. Later in the night, the jury said it was locked at 10-1 with one juror refusing to participate in the vote. The jury foreman did not disclose how the jurors voted.
At noon on Tuesday, the court reconvened and Harrison's attorney filed three motions. One was a motion for mistrial based on concerns that juror's votes were made public. The second motion was to keep the juror who refused to take part in the vote because the voting process had already begun. The third was another motion for mistrial based on a source inside the courtroom who saw key witnesses of the prosecution using social media while in court.
The judge dismissed all three motions and excused the juror who refused to vote. The alternate juror was put in place of the juror and the jury resumed deliberations.
Harrison shot Dane Scott Jr. in the back on March 14, 2012, following a high-speed chase that began when Harrison tried to pull over Scott's car.
Harrison had previously arrested Scott on drug violations. Prosecutors said his pursuit of the teenager crossed the line from professional to personal. The defense portrayed Scott as a drug dealer and said Harrison believed the teen was reaching for a second weapon after the officer took one gun from him during a scuffle that followed the police chase.
The jury announced the verdict and recommended the minimum four-year prison sentence after deliberating for about 11 hours over two days.
Harrison showed no emotion when the verdict was read. He was handcuffed by sheriff's deputies and led to the Oklahoma County jail.
Scott's family wept and hugged one another after the verdict was read. The family said nothing to reporters outside the courtroom.
The shooting occurred just a few weeks after the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, and the defense suggested early on that prosecutors were influenced to file charges to prevent the type of racial discord that followed that shooting and another high-profile case in Tulsa last year. Harrison is white; Scott was black.
Prosecutors haven't said Harrison was motivated by any racial bias, just that Harrison was wrong to shoot Scott. The jury included three African-Americans.
"We will police our own," Prater said. "This is a tough case. It had to be done."
Defense attorney Doug Friesen said he will ask the judge to allow Harrison to remain free while his conviction is appealed.
"I am sorry for Randy, for the way this came out," Friesen said, "I wish I could have done a better job."
During the trial, Scott's baggy pants became a central issue. Witnesses say the 18-year-old was trying to hold them up as he ran from Harrison. Although the witnesses testified that they saw no threat from Scott, Harrison and his defense team said the officer believed he was reaching for his pants pocket, where he could have had another gun. Police did not find a weapon on Scott after the shooting.
Prater told jurors during closing arguments Monday that Harrison put other people in danger when he fired four shots at Scott, placing bystanders and a fellow officer in harm's way before hitting the teenager in the back with the fourth shot.
Prater said Scott was "no threat at all" at the time. "He's running and holding his pants," the prosecutor added.
Harrison, a 23-year veteran officer in the Oklahoma City suburb, testified earlier Monday that he feared for his life.
"He had just tried to kill me. He would kill anybody to escape," Harrison testified. Harrison said he did not want to kill Scott. "I just didn't have any other choice," he said.
Friesen told jurors that while prosecutors had tried to portray Harrison as "an out-of-control maniac," he was actually trying to protect his life and the lives of others.
Another police officer was running about 10 to 15 feet behind Scott and had just shot him with a Taser when Harrison fired the fatal shot, according to an affidavit.
The officer who used the Taser said he didn't see the teen with another weapon. Another witness said it appeared Scott was raising his hands, as if to surrender, when he was shot.
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.
The charges against Harrison were filed just after two white men were accused of fatally shooting three black people in Tulsa in what prosecutors said were racially motivated attacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.