An Oklahoma police agency is in the hot seat over its handling of two similar incidents that had vastly different outcomes, leading critics to question whether race played a factor.
On Saturday, Edmond Police responded to reports of a man allegedly high on acid and acting “out of control” on the University of Central Oklahoma’s campus, local station KFOR reported. A shootout ensued, yet officers took him down without incident.
“He’s running and I’m just scared,” a caller told dispatchers in a 911 call released by the department this week.
According to police, suspect Jackson Morris, 19, ran through the front glass door of his home while high on drugs. His girlfriend, who also dialed police, admitted they had taken acid and that Morris was “having a bad trip.”
Surveillance video captured the young man sprinting through a parking lot on campus moments after getting into a bizarre confrontation with his next-door neighbor.
“I’m gonna go inside in case somebody starts shooting,” the woman told 911 dispatchers.
Authorities arrived to find Morris holed up inside his home and were sent running for cover after Morris fired several shots from his window. Police said Morris, eventually came back outside and was tasered when police said he refused to comply with their demands.
The shock did little to subdue Morris, who continued shouting at officers and making “odd, incoherent statements.” He was tasered several more times before being arrested and carted off to jail.
No one was injured in the incident.
The situation ended much differently for Isaiah Lewis, an unarmed Black teen gunned down by police in the Oklahoma City suburb in April. The 17–year–old was seen running naked through the streets before two officers spotted him trying to break into someone’s home.
Police said the officers “were violently assaulted” during a confrontation with Lewis inside the house, according to KFOR. Authorities claimed they were forced to shoot the young man after tasing him proved ineffective.
“Our use of force training is initially hands on and then to deploy a taser,” department spokeswoman Jenny Wagnon told the station. “And we know both of those happened and then firing the handgun is protocol if the first two are not successful.”
Lewis’ family has criticized officers’ actions and said lethal force wasn’t necessary.
“He was not armed,” said Vicki Lewis, the teen’s mother. “He didn’t deserve to die the way that he did. He didn’t deserve to die, period. “
The department is now facing new criticism over how it was able to arrest Morris, who fired at officers, but fatally shot an unarmed Lewis. Jabee Williams, a local community activist, suspects race may have played a role in officers’ handling of the situations.
“This other guy, he’s shooting at the police,” Williams told KFOR in a recent interview. “He’s shooting at them and nobody shot back so that just shows you, like, whose life they value. It was more important for them to make sure that this guy was brought in alive.”
Now, Williams is demanding that Edmond police be held accountable.
“They messed up,” he said.
Morris faces charges of shooting with intent to kill and is expected to appear in court next month.
A toxicology report on Lewis hasn’t been released.
Watch more in the video below.