Driver charged in chase that killed Mil­wau­kee of­fi­cer had child in car.

Man re­mains in jail with bail set at $500,000

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Front Page - Ash­ley Luth­ern

As Mil­wau­kee po­lice lights flashed be­hind a black Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat, the driver who had abruptly changed lanes made a choice.

He had an open traf­fic case and was still driv­ing with a re­voked li­cense.

He had a gun and his 5-year-old son in the car.

He de­cided to flee.

“I thought you guys couldn’t pur­sue ve­hi­cles un­less it was a felony,” Ladell Har­ri­son told de­tec­tives af­ter the squad that was pur­su­ing him flipped, killing an of­fi­cer.

The de­tec­tives told him he was in­cor­rect and the chase pol­icy had been changed, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint.

Har­ri­son, 28, is ac­cused of flee­ing from Of­fi­cers Matthew Schulze and Charles Irvine Jr. and lead­ing them on a chase on West Sil­ver Spring Drive last Thurs­day evening.

Har­ri­son wove in and out of traf­fic and reached speeds greater than 96 mph, the com­plaint says.

The squad car be­hind him lost con­trol at North 76th Street and rolled — one wit­ness said it flipped 20 times — be­fore land­ing on its roof.

Irvine died in the crash. The 23-year-old was the first Mil­wau­kee of­fi­cer killed in the line of duty in 22 years. Schultze was se­ri­ously in­jured and has since been re­leased from the hospi­tal.

Har­ri­son was ar­rested hours af­ter the crash, and on Tues­day pros­e­cu­tors charged him with 11 felonies, in­clud­ing five drug counts, flee­ing an of­fi­cer caus­ing death and two counts of first-de­gree reck­lessly endangering safety.

He re­mained in Mil­wau­kee County Jail on Tues­day with his bail set at $500,000. He is due back in court June 22.

“I com­mend all of those in­volved in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Mil­wau­kee Po­lice Chief Al­fonso Mo­rales said in a state­ment af­ter the charges were filed.

On­go­ing drug in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The crim­i­nal com­plaint shows the Mil­wau­kee High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area Task Force was in­ves­ti­gat­ing Har­ri­son for months be­fore the chase.

It started with a fa­tal drug over­dose in Wauke­sha County.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint:

A woman and her brother had gone to a Days Inn in Mil­wau­kee to buy heroin on Nov. 3.

The heroin “did not taste right,” the brother later told in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

The woman died the next day. Tox­i­col­ogy tests showed she had died from an over­dose of fen­tanyl, a pow­er­ful syn­thetic opi­oid.

The Wauke­sha County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment in­ves­ti­gated, find­ing a phone num­ber and nick­name of the dealer that were as­so­ci­ated with Har­ri­son.

The Sher­iff’s De­part­ment, the drug task force and the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan fo­cus­ing on Har­ri­son.

Us­ing a con­fi­den­tial in­for­mant, they set up sev­eral con­trolled buys of co­caine and heroin from Har­ri­son in De­cem­ber, Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary. The in­for­mant re­ported Har­ri­son of­ten had a gun dur­ing these sales.

In Fe­bru­ary, Har­ri­son told the in­for­mant he had just bought a black Volk­swa­gen be­cause he had learned po­lice had pic­tures of his pre­vi­ous car. Dur­ing that con­trolled buy, the in­for­mant re­turned with $700 worth of “sus­pected heroin.”

When po­lice tested it, they dis­cov­ered it was fen­tanyl.

In March, in­ves­ti­ga­tors were fol­low­ing Har­ri­son, who ap­peared to sell drugs to some­one inside an­other car. Po­lice pulled over that car. The oc­cu­pant had 0.32 grams of heroin and told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he had been buy­ing heroin from Har­ri­son for more than a year.

Af­ter the chase last Thurs­day, Mil­wau­kee po­lice de­tec­tives knew they were look­ing for the Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat; Schulze and Irvine had punched the li­cense plate into the com­puter be­fore the crash.

The com­plaint out­lines what po­lice say hap­pened next:

De­tec­tives and of­fi­cers used an un­der­cover car and went to an apart­ment in the 9500 block of W. Fond du Lac. Ave. That address was linked to the Pas­sat’s regis­tra­tion.

They saw the car parked in the lot and a woman climb­ing into it. A man, later iden­ti­fied as Har­ri­son, went into the driver’s seat of a sil­ver Lexus parked nearby. He had two small chil­dren with him.

Both cars drove away. Of­fi­cers fol­lowed them to an al­ley in the 9400 block of W. Bradley Road. Once the ve­hi­cles parked, po­lice de­cided to try to ar­rest Har­ri­son, who had got­ten out of the car.

When they iden­ti­fied them­selves as po­lice, Har­ri­son ran back to the Lexus, jumped into the driver’s seat and closed the door.

A small child was scream­ing from the back­seat.

The three of­fi­cers sur­rounded the Lexus, pointed their guns at Har­ri­son and or­dered him to get out.

As one of the of­fi­cers tried to break the driver’s side win­dow, Har­ri­son put his hands up.

But in­stead of sur­ren­der­ing, he slammed the Lexus in drive and sped away.

At the same time, an­other group of of­fi­cers had gone to Har­ri­son’s apart­ment, where they saw a Chevy Ta­hoe linked to him pull away.

They fol­lowed it to the park­ing lot of Fond du Lac Food and Liquor. As they watched it, they saw Har­ri­son run across the street to the SUV. He ap­peared to talk to the driver be­fore walk­ing away.

That’s when the of­fi­cers de­cided to try to ar­rest him again, driv­ing into the park­ing lot.

One of­fi­cer jumped out of the ve­hi­cle, yelling: “Po­lice, stop!”

Har­ri­son ran, but the of­fi­cer caught up to him and grabbed him. Sev­eral other of­fi­cers helped take him into cus­tody.

At the time, Har­ri­son had three cell­phones, a bag con­tain­ing a dig­i­tal scale and nearly $1,900 — all ev­i­dence of drug deal­ing, po­lice said.

Ques­tioned by po­lice, he said he had just picked up his son from day care when he saw the flash­ing lights be­hind him.


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