According to reports, the officer, 34-year-old Ronald Harris, followed a Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteer to the Memphis International Airport where a meeting with the recipient family was to be held.
As the volunteer sat with the family, who was about to receive a bag containing t-shirts and a $1,500 gift card, Harris quietly approached and seized the items. Being noticed by the volunteer, Harris reportedly attempted to play the theft off as a mistake.
Several minutes later, Harris returned and snatched the bag a second time before running out of the terminal. A family member of the sick toddler was head-butted by Harris as he attempted to retrieve the bag, an injury that later required several stitches.
Statements from the incident’s police report indicate that Harris then fought several officers, even escaping from a police car at one point.
The Memphis Police Department later announced that Harris would be suspended with pay until an internal investigation could be conducted. Currently in custody on $25,000 bail, Harris now faces several charges including escape from felony incarceration, aggravated assault and robbery.
“It is certainly disheartening and I am deeply saddened that an organization as wonderful as Make-A-Wish was victimized by someone sworn to protect, especially a member of the Memphis Police Department,” Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong told reporters. “Thankfully, no one sustained serious injuries. This officer is now facing serious charges for his criminal behavior. The Airport Police is to be commended for their quick response and professionalism.”
Liz Nelson, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish, released a similar statement condemning the officer’s actions.
“People make poor choices, and we don’t know the decisions that lead this person to do what they did” Nelson said. “We are just fortunate that we have the Memphis Police Department and the airport.”
According to WMC Action News 5, Harris’ 12-year tenure with the department has been plagued with countless violations.
“Harris’ personnel file contained several violations including damage to a squad car, radio violations, sick leave policy abuse, sleeping on the job, failure to get approval for additional employment, and failure to appear in court,” the investigation states. “Most resulted in a written reprimand or a short suspension.”
Harris’ alleged actions represent the rife corruption issues facing countless police departments across the country, where officers engaged in blatant criminal activity continue to be rewarded with special protection from the laws they purport to uphold.
A graphic video that shows a police shooting of a homeless man in the Albuquerque foothills is raising a firestorm of controversy, and it’s not the first time police there have faced backlash over citizen shootings.
Hundreds have posted outraged comments online and a public protest of the Albuquerque Police Department is planned for Tuesday evening after police last week released the helmet-cam video, which shows officers shooting at a homeless man March 16 who they said was illegally camping, reports CBS affiliate KRQE.
In the video, the man, James Boyd, 38, appears to turn away before he is shot by police. Boyd later died. He was struck by at least one live round, but the medical investigator’s office hasn’t determined what killed him, reports the Albuquerque Journal.
According to an Albuquerque police spokeswoman, Boyd was carrying knives and threatening to kill the officers. But critics say the incident raises alarming questions about how Albuquerque police use deadly force.
“We’ve reviewed the video, and like many people who have seen it, we found it to be fairly disturbing,” Steve Allen, public policy director for the ACLU of New Mexico, told CBS News’ Crimesider. “It certainly does raise questions about why this tragedy couldn’t have been avoided.”
For critics, the police shooting is an all-too-common occurrence in Albuquerque. Boyd’s death marks the 22nd deadly police-involved shooting since early 2010, said Andrew Lipman, who chaired the city council’s Police Oversight Task Force.
Lipman’s 11-member task force released recommendations in January calling for the creation of a totally new and independent body to act as a citizen oversight group for police.
The task force also called Tuesday for an independent review of Boyd’s shooting.
“They’re viewing this man as kind of the enemy, in a combat situation, and that’s not really what they’re there to do — they’re there to ensure public safety,” Lipman said. “…This man lost his life because he was illegally camping.”
Read more at Source: CBSnews.com