Early last month, a Volusia County Sheriff's deputy in DeLand, Florida, tried to pull over Marlon Brown for not wearing his seatbelt. When Brown refused to stop, the deputy alerted the DeLand Police Department, who gave chase. After a few blocks, Brown pulled over near an empty field, got out of his car, and ran on foot from the officers. That was when Officer James P. Harris, 25, ran Brown over with his car, killing him. This past Friday, Harris was fired:
Officer James P. Harris, 25, who was on probation, was terminated Friday afternoon, police Chief William Ridgway said.
Ridgway said in a written statement that Harris was let go "based on the totality of the circumstances and facts that I continually learned through the process of the investigation."
He would not comment further because the Florida Highway Patrol investigation and a Deland internal investigation are not finished.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that the decision to fire Harris before the Florida Highway Patrol completed its investigation was largely a result of Harris being a police officer for all of nine months:
Ridgway's termination letter to Harris was brief.
"I have determined that you have failed to meet probationary standards. Effective immediately, your employment with the City of DeLand has been terminated. This decision was made in the best interests of the department, the city and the community."
Harris was a probationary employee hired in August. He hadn't yet received his first review.
"He's been terminated because of his probationary status," DeLand police Sgt. Chris Estes said.
That doesn't necessarily mean the DeLand PD is religious about holding reckless cops accountable. Another reason for the quick response? Outrage from DeLand's African American community, which has been demanding justice for Brown for almost a month now. The News-Journal also reveals why Brown was so unwilling to pull over:
Brown had problems with the law before. He had more than two dozen arrests in 20 years and was released from jail in April after serving time for drug possession. Friends believe it is unlikely he had a valid driver's license the night of his death and feared returning to jail.
Previously: Florida Man Flees Seatbelt Stop on Foot, Cop Runs Him Over and Kills Him