Charges dropped against TPD Officer accused of road rage

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By: Julie Montanaro
July 26, 2016

A Tallahassee Police officer accused in a case of road rage is no longer facing criminal charges.

Prosecutors dropped aggravated assault charges against
Police Officer James Harris on Monday.

"It's a wonderful thing," Harris' attorney Don Pumphrey said. "It's shocking that someone would put one of our law enforcement officers in this position, but it's good that law enforcement did its job and the state attorney's office did their job and so now, Mr. Harris can move on and move forward."

Harris was arrested in April. He was accused of trying to run a cyclist off the road near the corner of Londblah Road and Metropolitan Boulevard.

Prosecutors filed paperwork Monday saying while there was "sufficient probable cause for arrest," witnesses gave conflicting descriptions of what happened.

"Put simply, the witness accounts are significantly different from those provided to law enforcement and do not suggest that the Defendant was trying to run over the cyclist," prosecutor Jack Campbell said in court documents. "The state cannot proceed further as the facts do not support a criminal charge."

"I don't think he lost his temper at all. In fact I think he kept his cool," the officer's attorney said.

"I think the circumstances were he was afraid a cyclist had his car ... and being an avid cyclist himself and an iron man finisher he stopped to check on the guy and the guy was irate. The guy came up to his window, started beating on the window violently, came out into the roadway and I think Officer Harris acted like any professional would," Pumphrey said. "I think he's the reason the situation didn't get worse."

A Tallahassee Police Department spokesman says Harris remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.


By: James Buechele
April 15, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Tallahassee Police Officer is under arrest after what appears to be an episode of road rage last week. Officer James Harris faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a run-in with a cyclist last week.

Arrest papers say Harris’s minivan passed just inches away from the cyclist.

The victim was riding north on Lohnbladh Road near the intersection of Metropolitan Boulevard. The report says the victim reached out and slapped the side of the van. That van was being driven by James Harris, who was off duty at the time.

According to the arrest report, the two got into an argument and the victim says Harris grabbed him. The cyclist then started to pedal away when he says Harris got into his van, hit the gas and drove right towards him. The victim says if it weren’t for him moving off of the road he would have been hit.

TPD Officer David Northway says, "So we have to charge what is by Florida statute. That's the way we have to do it. Road rage is a terminology that most people use, you certainly could use the moniker in that case but we're not allowed to call it that."

Harris turned himself in this afternoon and was booked in the Leon County Jail. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a felony.

Harris remains on paid administrative leave while TPD conducts an internal investigation.

A witness is corroborating the victim’s story. However, another witness says he did not see any physical confrontation.



 
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