Update on Off Duty Police Officer Intentionally Hit/Harassed by Car While on her Bike

Photo by flickr user Gerry Dincher

Back in June 2011 we looked at an incident about an off duty police officer who was intentionally hit/harassed by a car in Columbia Heights:

I was stopped [on a bike] at the intersection of 13th and Kenyon St. NW at a red light, waiting to turn left onto 13th St. Kenyon is a one-way street going west, and I was on the left side of the street, since I would be turning left. While waiting for the light I heard a car speed up Kenyon St. behind me…

The light turned green and I started to proceed. And then I felt *BUMP!!!!!* again, this time a bit harder…

So I stopped. Pulled out my police badge (yes, I’m a cop if you didn’t know before. No I really don’t want to talk about it, thanks) showed it to the driver and motioned him to stay right where he was.

Thanks to a reader for sending a link to the update from a Girl on a Bicycle:

In the end: Mr. Harrison was sentenced to 36 months for the felony fleeing, 36 months for felony possession of a firearm and 180 days for the assault on a police officer, to be served concurrently. So basically, 3 years (minus the year he’s already served while sitting in jail since being arrested). I am happy with this. It’s the high end of the spectrum for each of the charges, and even though its concurrent, not consecutive, I feel its enough.

My hope is that maybe Mr. Harrison will learn his lesson this time. Maybe.

And maybe others out there might think twice before doing something dangerous to another human being and think they could get away with it. I am very sure Mr. Harrison had no idea what the consequences would be for doing something he probably thought was no big deal. That night, I was just another girl on a bicycle. Today, he’s just another criminal in jail.

44 Comment

  • Great Story!
    I wish all impatient drivers who harassed bikers and pedestrians feared these consequences.

  • best news i’ve heard today!

  • this dude is dangerous and def deserved to get the book thrown at him, but all I can really think about is how this happens all the time to people who are not cops and there are absolutely no consequences

    • Exactly. Police are protected, we are neglected.

    • Absolutely. I’ve been following this story from the beginning, and the officer does not seem to get it. Even now she ends “I was just another girl on a bicycle…” No you were not, and the charges reflect that. An ordinary citizen would not have gotten that kind of instantaneous reaction this officer got when colleagues raced to her aid and in pursuit of the assailant. An ordinary driver would certainly not have gotten 180 days, plus three years for fleeing the scene of an intentional vehicular assault on an ordinary girl or guy on a bike. Especially when the guy simply bumped her with his car. Anyone else would have been asked “Are you ok?” and told to forget about it and that the police have “more important priorities.”

      I guess we know what those priorities are. Protect their own and leave everyone else on our own.

      • I thought it was very clear that she understands how being a cop made her situation different. (And even clearer if you read the original post too.) The part about being “just another girl on a bicycle” is about the way the attacker viewed her.

  • Good stuff. I know some people will probably give me some rude replies about this but a lot of drivers in the DC area (including MD and VA) just need some traffic enforcement. Lack of such enforcement have caused people to not care about bikes and pedestrians…but ALSO other cars. Almost daily you see people cussing each other out and not merging properly. Its also a way that police in other jurisdictions target criminals–by making traffic stops and getting probable cause to search.

  • That sounds like a pretty good outcome. I live right around the corner from where this happened, and I’m glad to have Kathleen in my neighborhood. (An officer who both lives and works in the third district!) I bike all the time, and if it had been me, I would have had to grit my teeth and get away asap. No way I would take on a car full of thugs. It’s nice to hear of an a-hole taking on the wrong person and getting what he had coming to him.

  • So, three years for running from a cop, six months for assaulting a cop? That seems backwards.

  • “So I stopped. Pulled out my police badge (yes, I’m a cop if you didn’t know before. No I really don’t want to talk about it, thanks) ”

    Except she did want to talk about it.

  • I hope this story is more widely circulated, like on the news, so folks recognize there are consequences…on the other side (as a cyclist myself), please use hand signals when turning or shifting lanes.
    It’s not that hard!!! Cars don’t know which direction you ‘intend’ to go.

  • It’s encouraging to hear a positive outcome from our judicial system.

  • *Awesome*. This is a pretty high-traffic intersection. Perhaps someone should put up a big billboard or a sign with his mug shot on it and a ticker showing how many hours he’s spent in jail to date for deliberately bullying a cyclist at that spot, just as a friendly reminder to everyone out there that bikes are not squirrels and hitting one with your car has consequences.

    Maybe we should all take photos of people enjoying their bikes around town and send them to Mr. Harrison in jail as postcards too 🙂

  • i’m glad he got busted, but personally i think 36 months is too harsh.

  • Blithe

    I’m curious: someone driving a car deliberately hits someone NOT driving a car — a potentially damaging, non-provoked assault. What do you think the appropriate consequences for such actions should be?

    • that’s technically not what he got the majority of his time for… felony fleeing and felony possession… nothing really for putting the officer in danger…

  • 36 months for felony possession? Had the prosecutor chosen to refer this to project exile this would have been a 5 year minimum.

    thanks for not enforcing the gun laws against violent criminals while depriving me of my rights DC…

  • Cars are lethal weapons, they are everywhere, and people think they can joke around with them. The only bad thing about someone getting jail time in this story is that it is the exception. This type of harassment happens daily to cyclists in DC. It takes guts, and some might say sacrifice, to cycle in a city. Car drivers need to learn respect.

    • Not to be a cynic, but the only reason this person got jail time was because he fled when the cop pulled out her badge (3 years). He was a felon (with an extensive criminal history) and in unlawful possession of a firearm (3 years). He got 180 days for hitting a bike with his car, but only because she was a cop. Don’t get me wrong, there should be consequences for cars that hit and/or harass cyclists, but this guy didn’t get jail time for that. If he was a businessman, government official or 1%-er and all he did was hit a off-duty cop on her bike, he *might* have gotten some form of probation and if all he did was hit a non-cop on her bike, he would have gotten nothing (like the pickup truck guy in that waba video).

      • It always pays to have the means to get a good lawyer.

      • I see it slightly differently: true, the sentence was at least in part driven by the flight from law enforcement, which necessarily hinges on the fact that the victim was a cop and had the lawful authority to detain (I think that’s what I can take from the recounting here, although looks like there is a concurrent sentence for the unlawful possession, which has nothing to do with the flight or APO charges).

        But the only reason there was enforcement at all was because she was an enforcer who knew what to do and chose to exercise her rights. If only every victim of crime in DC did/attempted to do the same, we might not only expect but actually get more from local government.

        Frankly, I’m really, really glad that the “girl on a bike” was also a cop, because she was knowledgeable and empowered enough to take action, and for one of the rare occasions in DC, a resident a-hole actually will suffer consequences for his unlawful, a-hole behavior. Allowing that very few resident a-holes inclined to engage in this type of action will read this story, if even one of them does, “the girl on the bike” is upping the deterrence in a way that benefits everybody — he’ll hopefully wonder if the next girl on a bike he thinks about assaulting also happens to be carrying a badge, and whether entertaining his passengers might be worth losing 3 years of his freedom.

        • “But the only reason there was enforcement at all was because she was an enforcer who knew what to do and chose to exercise her rights”

          I would say she was doing her job. Cops carry their guns and badges 24/7. If they see a crime being commited, it is their duty to respond to it. In this case, she was the victim of the crime. Bad luck for the criminal.

  • gotryit

    Bravo to the police officer – thank you.

    Why does concurrent sentences make any sense? You do one thing wrong and are sentenced for it, so the second is a freebie? Is his jail term going to be twice as bad during those 3 years?

    • Yeah, it sounds a bit fishy, but I think the main point is that he’ll have all of these charges on his record.

      • Just a little education for ya, almost all sentences that come from a single transaction/occurrence run concurrently in almost all court systems in the country. There is much debate over this in legal community, but that is the situation. And before you’all start to say it was separate acts, legally this is one occurrence. While there are judges who would run the gun sentence consecutive, because while he possessed it during the crime, it had nothing to do with the crime, that is not the norm. In this particular aspect of the case, he was treated like the vast majority of those sentenced.

        • gotryit

          So the lesson is to commit all your ruckus in one occurence rather than multiple occurrences. I’m glad that makes sense.

          • Kind of. And while it is more complicated then a brief blog comment discussion will allow, lots of fights during sentencing phases of cases turn on this question. For instance most prosecutors would argue that a string of robberies committed in quick succession would count as separate transactions and occurrences and the guilty party should be subjected to consecutive sentences (note even here if the sentence is a long one, which of course does not happen in DC, the sentences will often be concurrent). While a robbery followed by resisting the officer who saw the robbery and tried to arrest the individual would be one occurrence. So your “commit all your ruckus in one occurrence” advise works up to a point. But there is only so much ruckus that will fit into one occurrence.

  • Gotta love it…”And he asked her if she wouldn’t mind hiding his drugs and gun for him.”

    What, they dropped the drug charge (I guess they didn’t find his stash)? And a career criminal in possession of a gun. They should have locked him up for much longer. Then again, murder gets you only 15 years in this city. What our leaders tolerate is just unreal.

  • good to hear that a thug has been locked away for 3 years..

  • Sometimes I wish I was a cop so I could ticket all the jerk face bikers who harass me and break the law. Pretty sure those bike messengers are packing heat and trafficking in narcotics part-time, so I imagine I could get the same outcome for the.

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