Oklahoma City Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter After Shooting Black Man in the Back

A video taken by a bystander shows a confrontation between Oklahoma City police officers and Bennie Edwards, a 60-year-old man who was allegedly holding a knife. (Credit…via KFOR)

An Oklahoma City police sergeant who shot a man three times in the back as he ran away last December was charged on Thursday with manslaughter.

The shooting of the man, Bennie Edwards, 60, who was black, by Sgt. Clifford Holman, 36, who is white, was partially captured on video and touched off protests in the city. Mr. Edwards had struggled with mental illness, and the officers who confronted him did not possess crisis intervention certification, The Oklahoman reported.

“There are always many things to consider when determining whether or not an officer’s use of deadly force is lawfully justified or not,” the district attorney for Oklahoma County, David W. Prater, said in announcing the case against Sergeant Holman, according to The Associated Press. “Any loss of human life is tragic, and I take these decisions very seriously.”

An affidavit by Bryn Carter, a homicide detective who investigated the matter, accompanied the charging document from Mr. Prater and described the events leading to Mr. Edwards’s death.

On Dec. 11, the police received a call about a man disturbing customers near a store. The first officer to arrive found the man, Mr. Edwards, near a pawnshop. When the officer approached, Mr. Edwards opened a folding knife he had in his right hand and began telling the officer to leave, according to the affidavit.

The officer, Sgt. Keith A. Duroy, called for backup, and specifically asked for a unit with a Taser. Sergeant Holman, a seven-year veteran with the department and a certified Taser operator, soon arrived.

Mr. Edwards kept telling officers to leave, “keeping the knife in his right hand, and pointing it at officers as they were giving him commands to drop it,” the affidavit said. Sergeant Holman “deployed his Taser at Mr. Edwards on two separate occasions with no effect.” Mr. Holman also sprayed Mr. Edwards with a gas, which had “little to no effect,” the affidavit said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Azi Paybarah