- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A former Oklahoma police captain convicted of first-degree manslaughter was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison in the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot in the back as he ran away following a scuffle.

Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Deason handed down the sentence to former Del City Police Capt. Randy Trent Harrison and rejected defense pleas that Harrison be sentenced to probation in the March 14, 2012, death of Dane Scott Jr., 18.

Deason also denied Harrison’s motion for a new trial. Jurors who convicted Harrison on the manslaughter charge in November had recommended Harrison serve the minimum four-year prison sentence.

Scott was shot following a high-speed chase that began when Harrison tried to pull over Scott’s car. The pair scuffled when the chase ended, and Scott pointed a handgun at Harrison’s head before Harrison disarmed him.

Harrison, 48, had previously arrested Scott on drug violations, and 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 at the time he was shot.

Deason sentenced Harrison after Scott’s father, Dane Scott Sr., and mother, Deloise Dockins, stood before Deason and read emotional statements describing the impact the death of their son had had on them. Harrison, dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and shackled with chains, stood nearby.

“He won’t have kids of his own,” Dane Scott Sr. said tearfully in a barely audible voice.

Dockins said Harrison should be punished because he “unlawfully took the life of my son.”

Both said that two families suffered a loss on the day their son was killed - theirs and Harrison’s.

Defense attorney Carolyn Merritt pleaded for Deason to sentence Harrison, a 23-year veteran officer in the Oklahoma City suburb, to a term of probation. A presentencing investigation report conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections had recommended that Harrison receive probation.

“Nothing will be served by sending this man to prison,” Merritt said.

But District Attorney David Prater urged the judge to impose a prison sentence and said Harrison had made inconsistent statements about his actions on the day Scott died.

“No matter how hard this defendant tries, he will never be able to justify what he did that day,” Prater said. “Unfortunately, this officer crossed the line.”

Following the hearing, Prater characterized the presentencing report as “a joke” and said Harrison had taken hydrocodone, a prescription narcotic painkiller, the same day Dan Scott Jr. was shot.

Prater said the jury’s verdict and sentencing recommendation were based on the evidence.

“We believe it was just,” he said. “He chose to make something personal. He chose to be a bully.”

Harrison’s brother, Kenny Harrison, defended his brother and said he does not believe his actions crossed the professional line.

“He did what he was trained,” Kenny Harrison told reporters. “How would you like to almost get shot in the head?”

He said he felt sorry for the victim’s family because of what Dane Scott Jr. had become.

“He wasn’t trying to kill Dane Scott. He was trying to stop him,” he said.

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 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 did not allege Harrison was motivated by any racial bias, just that Harrison was wrong to shoot Scott.

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