A former jail sergeant and motel security guard in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attacked an unarmed Black man with pepper spray, then shot him to death in the motel parking lot.
Recently released surveillance footage of the encounter shows the moment Carlos Carson, a 36-year-old unarmed African American father of three, was shot dead after he was attacked by former Tulsa detention officer Christopher Straight.
The encounter occurred around noon on June 6 when Christopher Straight pepper-sprayed Carson as he walked to his car in the motel parking lot. According to police reports, Carson was a guest at the motel and was asked to leave after he became upset that his car had been vandalized while he was staying there.
When Carson returned to the motel a few minutes later, Straight, who was working as a security guard for the motel, got out of his truck and sprayed Carson with pepper spray. Carson then confronted Straight and the two men can be seen on surveillance video fighting. A few seconds later, Straight shot Carson in the head, killing him.
After the shooting, Straight admitted to police that Carson “did not actually make an aggressive move towards him to provoke him”. Saying he used the pepper spray to “deter” him from being aggressive and planned to detain him for trespassing.
The surveillance footage of the encounter shows that Carson was walking away from Straight’s truck when he was sprayed.
Straight was arrested after the incident and has been charged with first-degree manslaughter. He was been released on a $50,000 bond.
The Guardian reviewed documents that showed Straight was previously accused of racist behavior by a black colleague while working as a guard at the city’s jail, and inmates accused him of negligence.
The records show that Straight had been reprimanded for multiple infractions during his time as a detention officer at the Tulsa county sheriff’s office.
According to documents, he was demoted from a supervisor position in 2005 and he was suspended for five days and ordered to take additional training in 2013. That suspension came with a memo saying Straight “compromised the professionalism of the sheriff’s office and will not be tolerated again for any reason”.
Court documents show that Straight also had numerous complaints filed against him by inmates and even a colleague in recent years. In 2015, Godwin Ehiremen, a former prison guard who is black, said Straight suggested he was in the country illegally and was going to investigate his green card.
In 2018, an inmate filed a civil lawsuit in federal court claiming that Straight had failed to protect him during a jail fight in 2016. In 2017 another inmate filed a civil case saying Straight and other jail guards had wrongfully accused him of theft. All cases were dismissed in court.
The day before killing Carson, Straight shared a Facebook meme that said: “How about all lives matter. Not black lives, not white lives. Get over yourself no one’s life is more important than the next. Put your race card away and grow up.”
Ananias Carson, Carlos’s older brother, described him as a “good dude” who “loved his family, loved his kids and didn’t really have to do anything but be around family.
“He did not deserve to be killed in that manner in a totally unprovoked situation. Where this white man just felt that he had the right to do whatever he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.”