Woman who was shot in the head during pursuit sues Missississippi’s Capitol Police

Published 5:31 am Sunday, December 24, 2023

A woman who was shot in the head while she was a passenger in a car fleeing from police has filed a federal lawsuit against a state-run department in Mississippi’s capital city.

Sherita Harris was shot in the head during an August 2022 pursuit that began after a traffic stop in Jackson, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. Southern District of Mississippi. Two officers from the Capitol Police, who patrol an area home to many government buildings, stopped a car driven by Harris’ friend for running a red light.

The lawsuit, which alleges excessive force, says an officer began firing into the car after the traffic stop.

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A spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Capitol Police, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Police have not confirmed whether Harris was shot by an officer, NBCNews.com reported.

The officers have said the car Harris was in fled after they exited their patrol vehicle and that they heard gunshots coming from the car as they gave chase, court records show. One of the officers fired at the vehicle and it crashed into a curb.

The driver exited and began running on foot, according to the records. Officers said they saw a black object in his hands and shot him. After arresting him, they discovered the black object was a cell phone. The officers never found a gun, but later claimed in a court hearing that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which examines police shootings, recovered a weapon elsewhere.

After arresting the driver, the officers said they found Harris slumped over in the passenger seat of the car. She was transported to a hospital, where she required surgery to remove bullet fragments from her head, the lawsuit says. Harris still suffers with her speech, gait and cognitive abilities, the lawsuit says.

She has not been charged with a crime, but the driver was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, according to NBCNews.com.

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the episode for potential violations that could result in charges for the officers involved. The officers have been cleared to return to work while the office conducts its review.

Carlos Moore, Harris’ attorney, has called for federal prosecutors to investigate the case. The lawsuit seeks $3 million in damages.