A former Del City police officer who served time for killing an unarmed teenager is entitled to pension benefits, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled, overturning decisions from lower courts.
In a unanimous decision last week, the Supreme Court said Randy T. Harrison already had a vested benefit when the Legislature approved a law in 2011 that strips municipal employees of their retirement benefits if they’re convicted of a felony.
“When this section was enacted in 2011, the legislature was clear, forfeiture did not apply to ‘retirement benefits that are vested on the effective date of this act,’” the high court said in its decision.
“If the officer had a vested retirement benefit in 2011, then following the legislature’s plain language, forfeiture does not apply.”
The court found that Harrison had 16 years of vested benefits, which entitled him to a reduced monthly pension when he reached 50 years of age or the date on which he would have had 20 years of service, whichever was later.
Harrison was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Dane Scott Jr. in March 2012. Harrison shot Scott in the back as he ran away after a police pursuit and scuffle in southeast Oklahoma City.
In February 2014, Harrison was sentenced to four years in prison. According to state Corrections Department records, Harrison, now 55, was released on probation in April 2017.
The Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System notified Harrison in July 2014 that it was denying his request for a retirement benefit because his pension rights were forfeited by his conviction. The pension system board’s decision to deny pension benefits was ultimately upheld by an Oklahoma County district judge and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
— to oklahoman.com