(Editor’s note: The videos above and below show the shooting death of Bennie Edwards and may be upsetting to watch. The videos have been published here, with only the Holman body camera video trimmed prior to the reading of personal information.)
Hours after the Oklahoma City Police Department denied NonDoc’s request for body camera footage showing the shooting death of Bennie Edwards, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater provided four videos of the incident Friday.
Prater charged OKCPD Sgt. Clifford Holman with first-degree manslaughter Thursday, filing that Holman “willfully, unlawfully and unnecessarily killed Bennie Edwards by shooting him with a firearm, after an attempt by the deceased to commit a crime had failed.”
The body and car camera videos show the final moments of the life of Bennie Edwards — a 60-year-old man who experienced homelessness and psychosis — and they detail the actions of the three OKCPD officers who responded to a call about Edwards bothering customers outside a Hefner Road shopping center.
Master Sgt. Keith Duroy and Sgt. Michael Smith were speaking with Edwards for more than three minutes before Holman arrived on the scene. The footage from Holman’s body camera, embedded below, reveals that Holman arrived on the scene at the 2:08 mark of his recording and began shouting commands at Edwards — “Hey, drop the knife, dude!” — before fully exiting his vehicle.
Within 28 seconds, Holman has fired three shots at Edwards, the third of which hit Edwards in the center of his back as the Black man ran away from all three officers.
Holman was charged with manslaughter, but Duroy and Smith are not facing charges. The order of events as shown in the videos progresses as follows:
- Officers Duroy and Smith speak with Edwards, backing away as he approaches and following him as he backs up;
- Officer Holman arrives on scene and begins shouting commands immediately;
- Holman deploys a Taser and proclaims that it was “no good”;
- Smith deploys a liquid spray, slightly hitting Edwards in the face;
- Holman deploys a Taser again;
- Smith sprays again;
- Holding his knife in his right hand, Edwards runs away from his belongings and toward Duroy, who fires his pistol three times, hitting Edwards in the abdomen and arm/chest;
- Edwards turns and runs away from all three officers;
- Holman moves in front of Duroy’s police vehicle and fires his pistol three times, missing Edwards once, grazing his leg and then striking him in the center of the back;
- Edwards falls to the ground;
- As two additional officers arrive, Duroy limps owing to a muscle pull and kicks the knife away from Edwards’ body;
- Officers stand above Edwards, who raises his arm weakly;
- About 43 seconds after Edwards was shot, officers flip him from his back to his stomach and handcuff him;
- About two minutes after Edwards was shot, Holman touches Edwards’ head and asks, “Hey, hey, you alright, buddy?” Holman checks Edwards’ pulse and determines he does not have one. Officers begin setting up a perimeter and start providing medical aide.
OKCPD Sgt. Clifford Holman body cam footage
Prater declined to discuss the videos publicly.
“I will rely on my prior statement about how seriously I take these cases,” Prater said. “I can’t say anything further at this point because we have a case pending.”
The situation is similar to another police shooting of a man with mental health issues for which Prater prosecuted and convicted an OKCPD officer. Prater charged Oklahoma City police Sgt. Keith Sweeney with second-degree murder in 2017 following the shooting death of 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon. Sweeney shot Pigeon five times after the man had told a 9-1-1 operator he was suicidal.
Like Holman in the Bennie Edwards encounter, Sweeney was the third officer to arrive on the scene while other officers were already verbally engaged.
OKC FOP focuses on first part of Edwards’ run
Thursday after Holman’s charge was filed, OKC Fraternal Order of Police President John George released the following statement:
The OKC FOP stands by Sgt. Holman, who followed his training when an armed suspect charged another officer. A loss of life is always a tragedy, but officers must be able to protect one another when de-escalation tactics are ineffective.
In this situation, when faced with a disturbed individual armed with a deadly weapon, our officers used multiple methods of de-escalation and less-lethal options to try to avoid the use of deadly force. When those efforts were ineffective, the officers were put in peril when they were charged by the armed person. We maintain that Sgt. Holman upheld his duty and followed the law.
We know these are trying times for Sgt. Holman and his family, and we’re here for them. The FOP thanks every officer who puts on a badge to protect and serve, despite this challenging environment.
George’s statement does not address how Edwards was running away from the officers when Holman fired the fatal shot.
Benjamin Crump, whose law firm is representing members of Edwards’ family, also released a statement Thursday after Prater filed the manslaughter charge.
“Oklahoma City officials need to take full responsibility for what happened to Bennie Edwards in that parking lot, and today’s manslaughter charge is an important step in that process,” Crump said. “The continued mistreatment of Black men at the hands of police officers is a national tragedy, and the decision to charge one of the officers reflects the gravity of the situation.”
OKCPD Sgt. Keith Duroy body cam footage
OKCPD Sgt. Michael Smith body cam footage
(Update: This article was updated at 9:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, to add reference to which officers are not facing charges.)