Prosecutors have declined to file criminal charges against officers of an Oklahoma City suburb accused of fatally shooting an African-American s teen who was naked and unarmed.
In a statement Monday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Edmond Police Department officer Denton Scherman was “acting pursuant to Oklahoma statute” when he tasered, then opened fire on 17-year-old Isaiah Mark Lewis in April. The officer, Prater said, was justified in his use of deadly force against what he “perceived as a threat of bodily harm” to himself and a fellow officer.
“I do not find probable cause to charge either Sgt. Milo Box or Officer Denton Scherman with a criminal act,” he said. “As in all matters, if more facts are revealed that justify opening this investigation for reconsideration of charges, I will do so.”
Authorities said Lewis was seen running naked through the streets before Scherman and Sgt. Milo Box spotted the teen trying to break into a nearby home April 29. An altercation ensued, during which the two officers were “violently assaulted” after attempting to confront Lewis inside the home.
Police said the young man ignored officers’ repeated commands to stop, and at one point charged at the officers. According to the DA, Scherman suffered bruises to his face and neck while Box was diagnosed with a concussion in addition to back and neck injuries following their scuffle with the teen.
Scherman said he was forced to shoot Lewis after the stun gun proved ineffective at subduing the teen, who’d knocked Sgt. Box unconscious.
Lewis’ family argues otherwise, and have since filed a federal complaint against the city accusing the officers of excessive force.
“He wasn’t armed,” the victim’s mother, Vicki Lewis told local media at the time. “He didn’t deserve to die the way that he did. He didn’t deserve to die, period.”
Edmond police faced scrutiny earlier this year after officers resorted to deadly violence to take down the naked, unarmed teen but managed to arrest Jackson Morris, a 19-year old white man who engaged in a shootout with police while high on acid, without incident.
“This other guy, he’s shooting at the police,” local activist Jabee Williams told KFOR, arguing that race may have played a factor in officer’s handling of the incidents. “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.”
Lewis’ encounter with the cops ended much differently. According to an autopsy report, then teen suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the face, thighs and groin area. A toxicology report also revealed detectable amounts of a common antihistamine, as well as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system, The Associated Press reported.
Both officers have remained on paid suspension since the shooting.
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