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Black man's fatal shooting by white security guard at Tulsa motel leads to charges

The guard claimed he shot in self-defense because he was being attacked, a Tulsa police lieutenant said. "You don't get to pick a fight and claim self-defense," he said.

A white security guard is facing manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting of a Black man in a Tulsa motel parking lot earlier this month.

The guard, Christopher Straight, was taken into custody on June 6 and charged with first-degree manslaughter for the death of Carlos Carson that day, according to a Tulsa police statement and police homicide unit Lt. Brandon Watkins.

Police were called to the Knights Inn around noon for a report of a shooting. Authorities said in a Facebook statement that Straight had been involved in an altercation with Carson.

"Based on our investigation, we discovered that the victim was walking past the suspect's vehicle when the suspect emerged and sprayed the victim with pepper spray, seemingly without warning," the statement said.

Christopher Straight.
Christopher Straight.Tulsa Police Dept.

Straight and Carson got into a fight and Straight pulled out a pistol and shot Carson, who died at the scene, according to the police statement.

Carson, 36, was a guest at the motel and was planning to book a room for another night when he went to speak with the manager about his car being vandalized, his brother, Ananias Carson, told NBC News on Saturday.

Carlos Carson wanted the manager to look at the security footage, but the manager said he needed to contact the police, the brother said. Ananias said his brother got upset and the two men exchanged words.

Ananias Carson, who is a Tulsa police officer, said he believes his brother was walking back toward his motel room when he was confronted by Straight.

The shooting was captured on surveillance video. Lt. Watkins told NBC News in a phone interview Saturday that Straight was sitting in his truck talking with the owner of the motel when Carson walked by.

Watkins said that Carson was "minding his own business" and "wasn't making any kind of threatening gestures or anything like that."

"The security guard just stepped out and sprayed him," Watkins said. Carson threw a cup of coffee at Straight, and the two got into a physical altercation before Carson was shot.

Straight claimed he shot Carson in self-defense because he was being attacked, the police lieutenant said.

"You don't get to pick a fight and claim self-defense," Watkins added.

Straight was booked into the Tulsa County jail and was released after posting a $50,000 bond, according to Tulsa World. Online court documents show that he has a court appearance scheduled for June 26. An attorney was not listed for him.

The manager of the Knights Inn did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Saturday.

Ananias Carson said the family is handling the death of his brother, a father of three, as best they can. A funeral for Carlos, whom Ananias said was a family man who enjoyed fishing, was held on Friday.

Carlos Carson
Carlos Carson with his sons.Courtesy of family

"It was an unprovoked situation," Ananias said. "That's what makes it so hard to really deal with."

He said he wouldn't speculate on whether race was a factor in the shooting.

But, the brother said, "he didn't deserve to be killed in that manner, and it speaks to the climate and speaks to what's been going on in the country and why the country is in the state it's in."

Protests have been held across the country in response to the killings of African Americans, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks.

A few weeks prior to the shooting, Straight was given a citation for pepper-spraying a woman, Watkins said. The woman later declined to press charges.

According to the Tulsa World, Straight was previously a sergeant with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and worked at the jail. He resigned in 2018 amid an internal investigation, the newspaper said.

The sheriff's office did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment Saturday.

Three lawsuits were filed by inmates against Straight for his behavior while on duty, Tulsa World reported. All three suits were dismissed by the courts, according to the The Washington Post.