Oklahoma City, OK – The police sergeant who fatally shot a mentally-disturbed homeless man who charged officers with a knife has been charged with manslaughter (video below).
The incident occurred just after noon on Dec. 11, 2020 when police responded to a complaint for a homeless man on the sidewalk in front of Extra Cash Gold & Loan in the 2000-block of W. Hefner Road, KFOR reported.
Oklahoma City police said the business owner did not want the homeless man camped out in front of his business.
Officers responded to the business and quickly learned that the homeless man – later identified as 60-year-old Bennie Edwards – had a knife, KFOR reported.
They called for an officer with a Taser to respond to the scene and when that officer arrived, they approached Edwards.
Oklahoma City police officials said the officers attempted to subdue Edwards using less-lethal measures, KFOR reported.
“They attempted to deescalate the situation in an effort to get the suspect to drop the knife,” the police department said at the time. “Officers deployed a Taser and OC Spray, both of which were ineffective. The suspect refused to drop the knife and ran toward officers at which time officers discharged their firearms and shot the suspect.”
The charging affidavit said Sgt. Holman “deployed his Taser at Mr. Edwards on two separate occasions with no effect,” The New York Times reported.
Sgt. Holman also deployed gas which had “little to no effect,” according to the affidavit.
The charging document said that Edwards charged at Oklahoma City Sergeant Keith Duroy with the knife and then suddenly changed direction and began “running away from officers,” The New York Times reported.
According to the affidavit, Sgt. Holman dropped his Taser, drew his service pistol and “fired three shots unnecessarily at Mr. Edwards as he was running away striking him in his upper middle back, causing his death.”
Edwards was shot in the back three times and died at the scene.
The officer-involved shooting was investigated and on Feb. 25, Oklahoma County District Attorney David W. Prater announced he was bringing manslaughter charges against Oklahoma Police Sergeant Clifford Holman, The New York Times 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,” Prater said when he announced the charges. “Any loss of human life is tragic, and I take these decisions very seriously.”
Sgt. Holman has also been charged with second-degree manslaughter, The New York Times reported.
The police union has stood behind Sgt. Holman.
Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John said in a statement on Thursday that Sergeant Holman “followed his training when an armed suspect charged another officer,” The New York Times reported.
A lawyer for Sgt. Holman also released a statement on Feb. 25.
“We respect the heartache Mr. Edwards’s family is suffering, but we are convinced Sergeant Holman acted lawfully, and we are proud to represent him as we fight these charges in a court of law,” attorney Keith Sweet said.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: