OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A teenager who witnessed an Oklahoma police captain fatally shoot his unarmed friend testified Wednesday that the 18-year-old raised his hands and appeared to try to surrender before he was shot.
John Lockett, 17, was on the witness stand for a second day in the trial of Del City police Capt. Randy Harrison, 48, who is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the March 14, 2012, death of Dane Scott Jr. Harrison, a 23-year veteran of the police department in Del City, located southeast of Oklahoma City, has pleaded not guilty and faces a minimum of four years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
Harrison had previously arrested Scott on drug violations, and prosecutors say he seemed obsessed with the teen. A police affidavit says Scott posed no threat of death or great bodily harm when he was shot in the back, but the defense says Harrison's use of deadly force was justified because of Scott's actions before the shooting.
Lockett said Scott was running from Harrison when the officer opened fire. "He had his hands up like this," Lockett said, holding his hands up over his head. "He put his hands up like he surrendered."
Prosecutors say Harrison fired four bullets, one of which went through both of Scott's lungs and pierced his aorta.
Harrison had tried to pull over a car Scott was driving when the teen led Harrison on a high-speed chase. Lockett, who was in the car, testified Tuesday that Scott tried to hide marijuana and a gun he had. The car eventually crashed into a tractor-trailer.
After the collision, Scott and Harrison scuffled on the ground before Scott wriggled free, Lockett said. Authorities have said that during that scuffle, Harrison took a handgun from Scott and the teen was not armed when he was shot.
Another witness, Eric Thomason, 48, of Oklahoma City, testified that Harrison appeared to be fighting for his life as he struggled to disarm Scott. But Thomason said the teen did not appear to be a threat to Harrison or another officer nearby when the shooting happened.
"I never felt him as a threat to me," Thomason said.
Thomason, who was with a co-worker in a pickup truck that pulled up to an intersection where the struggle was taking place, said that when the two were wrestling on the ground, he thought Scott was trying to shoot the officer. "I was looking down the barrel of the gun they were fighting over," he said.
But Harrison was able to knock the handgun from Scott's hand before Scott broke free, Thomason said. Scott started running away from the officer and toward the pickup, Thomason said. He said he got out of the truck and tried to grab Scott as he ran by. Scott slipped his grasp and attempted to climb over a fence before he was shot and fell to the ground.
Thomason said he was frightened by the gunfire.
"The gun was being pointed in my direction," Thomason said. "I felt like I was in the line of fire."
After Harrison was charged last year, his attorney 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.
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