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Jury Convicts Okla. Police Captain in Death of Teen

An Oklahoma County jury found Del City police Capt. Randy Harrison guilty of first-degree manslaughter Tuesday for shooting an unarmed man in the back.

The jury chose a sentence of four years in prison.

Harrison, 48, remained stoic as he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 8. An appeal bond in first-degree manslaughter cases are prohibited by state statute, prosecutors said.

Dane Scott Jr., 18, was shot after leading police on a chase, scuffling with Harrison and then running away. He was disarmed by Harrison, but the officer said he feared for his life when he fired the fatal shot.

Prosecutors said Harrison crossed a line by shooting Scott when he no longer seemed to pose a threat.

"There are no winners in a case like this. The majority, I mean, vast majority of law enforcement officers in this country and this state and this city are outstanding professionals, but what the citizens need to know is: When officers cross the line, they'll be held accountable, and we will police our own," said District Attorney David Prater, himself a former police officer.

"Everyone gets treated fairly in the justice system here.

"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," Prater said.

"This is a tough case. It had to be done. It had to be brought to a jury of 12 people to hear it because they are the citizens that determine what they will accept in their city and what they won't and this crossed the line for them.

"I pray for Dane Scott's family, I pray for Randy Harrison and his family, and I'm glad it's over," Prater said while choking back tears.

The dead man's family declined to comment Tuesday.

Defense's reaction

"We're going to immediately start working on the appeal," defense attorney Doug Friesen said.

One possible basis for appeal is that one juror who refused to cast a vote as to Harrison's guilt or innocence was replaced with an alternate during deliberation.

"I'm just sorry for Randy for the way this came out. He's been an exemplary law enforcement officer for the last 25 years. He got caught up in a situation that was none of his own choosing, and I just wish I had done a better job for him," Friesen said.

Jury deliberations began Monday, but the jury was sent home early Tuesday without reaching a verdict. It took 11 hours total for the jury to reach their verdict.

Supporters of Harrison, 48, said before the trial that it would set a bad precedent to convict Harrison.

Prosecutors said Harrison had previous dealings with Scott, and his reaction to the young man had crossed a line from professional to personal.

Harrison had arrested Scott in November 2011 when Scott was reportedly selling marijuana near Del City High School, and the two men had crossed paths again in December 2011 and January 2012 as Harrison continued to investigate drug dealing.

A high-speed pursuit began on March 14, 2012, when Scott went left of center near SE 15 and Sunnylane Road and Harrison attempted to stop the car he was driving. The pursuit ended in a crash near SE 15 and Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City.

Harrison testified in his own defense on Monday, saying that Scott pointed a weapon at him during the ground scuffle after the crash.

"He was trying to kill me," Harrison said.

After being disarmed, Scott ran away, and Harrison testified that Scott repeatedly reached into his pocket while fleeing. Harrison fired three shots that missed before the fourth and fatal shot that struck Scott in the back.

"I was sure that Dane Scott had a gun in his pocket," Harrison testified.

Prosecutors proved that there was no second gun during the incident.

Jurors heard five days of testimony from eyewitnesses, Del City police officers who were at the scene and a pathologist, as well as the two passengers in Scott's vehicle during the pursuit.

Copyright 2013 - The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

McClatchy-Tribune News Service