Questions remain concerning the death of former Mobile Police Department (MPD) officer Robert Harris while in the custody of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Harris, who left the police force in March, was arrested at midnight on June 10 in McIntosh after a confrontation with local police and an off-duty MPD corporal on the roadside of Highway 43. According to an incident report, Harris attempted to coerce the officers to kill him during the event before fleeing in a stolen car.
Five days after being taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, and attempting to elude, Washington County officials confirmed Harris had died. No information has been released about his death and it is under investigation by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation.
However, Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer told Lagniappe Tuesday afternoon that Harris’ death was inevitable.
“What I will say is that what killed him, he wouldn’t have been saved if he were in an emergency room or hospital. That comes straight from the doctor,” Stringer said.
The sheriff said Harris had been on suicide watch at the time of his death and was evaluated and cleared by a medical professional twice in the days preceding his death.
Stringer said Harris had been put on suicide watch due to his behavior at the time of his arrest and an AltaPointe physician from Chatom was scheduled to conduct a mental evaluation at 1 p.m. on June 15. However, Harris died around noon.
According to the sheriff, Harris had been issued a bond for his charges and the sheriff’s office was trying to get his family to come and get him. He said one family member said they were too afraid to.
According to MPD, Harris resigned as a Mobile police officer on March 30 while the subject of an administrative and criminal investigation regarding an alleged inappropriate relationship with a minor. Harris resigned before the conclusion of the case, which a Mobile County grand jury did not indict him for in April.
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