OKLAHOMA CITY — Released video footage shows the final moments of a man killed by an Oklahoma City law enforcement officer. Bennie Edwards, a 60-year-old African American, was shot three times in the back by Sgt. Cliff Holman while running away. Officers on the scene the day of the fatal police shooting claim that Edwards was brandishing a knife prior to being shot to death.
Edwards died instantly from the gunshot wounds.
OKC Community members acquainted with the victim say he had a mental health issue and was suffering an acute mental crisis at the time of the police shooting. They are calling for police accountability and believe that Edwards’ was racially profiled. Edwards, who lived with a long-time mental disorder as well as housing insecurity, was allegedly causing a disturbance when an onlooker called law enforcement.
D.A. Charges officer with manslaughter
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater personally charged Sgt. Holman with first-degree manslaughter for Edwards’ death.
Attorney Prater released the footage to the Oklahoman local newspaper, as well as online publication NonDoc. Also released was Sgt. Holman’s bodycam footage.
Attorney Prater also proposed an alternative charge for Sgt. Holman, second-degree manslaughter. Both charges are felonies for severe police misconduct.
Should Sgt. Holman receive a conviction of first-degree manslaughter, he will face at least four years in prison. That includes up to a life sentence. The second charge, second-degree felony manslaughter, carries at least a two-year prison sentence. If convicted, the OKC police officer will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 85% of his sentence.
The fatal shooting occurred more than two months ago, in December 2020. Rather than provide Edwards with the medical support he needed, Oklahoma City Police deemed him a threat and shot him. While the OKC police department claims Mr. Edwards had a knife, the video footage does not confirm this.
Mr. Prater made clear in a statement that Oklahoma County takes police brutality seriously, “There are always many things to consider when determining whether or not an officer’s use of deadly force is lawfully justified or not.” Mr. Prater continued, “Any loss of human life is tragic, and I take these decisions very seriously.”
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