The Richmond Register

Local News

March 29, 2011

Harris pleads guilty to shooting at cops

RICHMOND — In what prosecutors called an unexpected move, a Richmond man pleaded guilty last week to charges stemming from a 2010 incident in which he shot a gun from inside his home at two police officers.

Christopher Harris entered an “open plea” Thursday in Madison Circuit Court, said Tom Smith, assistant commonwealth’s attorney. That means a plea agreement had not been reached prior to the hearing.

“It is sort of unusual,” Smith said. “We don’t have many of those.”

Harris was accused of shooting at police when they came to his house this past July. His grandfather, Sam Harris, called Richmond police after an argument with his grandson in which the younger Harris threw a half-empty pop can, striking the grandfather’s head.

Sam Harris told the Register he called police to “have a talk with” his grandson.

RPD Cpl. Tim Craft said he and Patrolman Lydia Douglas responded to the Lowell Avenue home the grandfather and grandson shared after receiving a domestic violence call.

Sam Harris said after his grandson threw the can, Chris Harris began “tearing apart the residence,” and the grandfather left to call police.

In a preliminary hearing in district court, Craft said the officers parked several houses down the street from the residence in a “tactical move” to inhibit an adverse response. Craft testified he went to one side of the residence as Douglas approached the front door.

The officer said he heard Douglas yell, “He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun,” Then she began screaming for Harris to drop his weapon, and Craft said he heard what sounded like a single gunshot.

The two officers took cover and called for the department’s Emergency Response Unit, Craft said. The team negotiated with Chris Harris for about 45 minutes before he surrendered without incident.

When he first was arrested, Chris Harris was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, a Class B felony; fourth-degree assault (domestic violence), and first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer.

His case was sent to a Madison grand jury, which indicted him on two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, both Class D felonies, and fourth-degree assault-domestic violence, a Class A misdemeanor.

The state is recommending a maximum sentence of three years, but the judge can sentence him to prison for one to five years. If the sentence is more than the prosecution recommends, the law allows a defendant to withdraw an open plea and take the case to trial, Smith said.

The fourth-degree assault charged was dismissed.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 19.

Lorie Love Hailey can be reached at editor@richmondregister.com.

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