Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

Harris body cam footage

 

August 12, 2021

David Harris

The Monroe Police Department (MPD) released bodycam footage of local resident (the late) David Harris and his encounter with MPD officers in an April 2021 incident that has been shrouded in much controversy. It was controversial because as a result of Harris' encounter with MPD, he would die not long after the initial contact with the officer who saw him walking on Standifer Street. Bodycam footage shows an officer engaging in a conversation with Harris, and he is told by someone that knew Harris, that he "was high" on PCP. After further conversation, Harris was placed in handcuffs to be taken to LSU Ochsner Hospital, which was less than five minutes away from where Harris was seen. Harris did not appear to be combative at that time, as initial reports from MPD would indicate that happened before his eventual stop at Ouachita Correctional Center (OCC) jail. The purpose of taking Harris to the hospital was to "check him out" though he was not arrested. The short ride to the hospital went without incident, but according to the video, Harris became agitated, saying that he wanted to get out of the police vehicle. When the officer opens the door, he allegedly sees that Harris has somehow gotten his handcuffed hands from behind his back, and a struggle ensues. The officer is allegedly hit in the face by Harris' head, resulting in the officer "getting a bloody nose". Other officers at the hospital come over to assist in getting Harris out of the police vehicle, where he is allegedly told to stop resisting, or he would be tased. Harris would initially be tased twice and then two more times in an effort to control him. According to the cam footage, when Harris is on the ground, he is tased a fifth time. Harris tells officers that he can't breathe after he was handcuffed again, and he is placed on his side. A decision is made to take Harris to OCC, where upon arriving, he is allegedly carried from the police vehicle to the inside of a building. At this time, Harris is noticed to be unconscious, and CPR is administered, but Harris succumbs to death there shortly after. After several investigations into Harris' death, the District Attorney said that "no criminal wrongdoing" was done by officers and no charges would be filed. Some in the community may wonder if the bodycam footage would vindicate officers, why did it take so long for the evidence to be released to the public. That was the main sticking point from those in the community who had made pleas to MPD Police Chief Victor "Vic" Zordan and Mayor Friday Ellis for transparency into Harris' death. Then it went to another investigative agency that passed the results of its investigation to DA Tew, who made the final decision. Though Harris' family has heard from Mayor Ellis expressing his condolences, it is perhaps a small consolation that a decision took this long. When the report said no criminal wrongdoing was done, some may ask about the excessive force that may have led to Harris' death. Some may ask why tase someone five times when police know that there are allegedly dangerous drugs in that person's body. How long was the duration of each tase? What was the time in between each tase before another was applied? Why tase an individual when he is already handcuffed? The trauma from each tase may be seen as "excessive" by some since Harris was in no position to escape. How many times does MPD policy state a taser may be used to get someone to comply? Or is it as "many as it takes"? Even with the release of the bodycam video giving a glimpse of what led to Harris' death, there are those in the community who believe there is more to this case.

 

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