Kelly Wade Harris, 52, after previously pleading guilty to five felony offenses, appeared for sentencing before the Honorable Judge Chap Cain, III, Presiding Judge in the 253rd Judicial District Court of Liberty County, on June 28, 2021. Prior to the State’s presentation of evidence, Harris agreed to a plea on all five felony charges.
Harris received prison terms of 28 years for Aggravated Assault of a Public Servant, 20 years for Possession of a Controlled Substance, 28 years for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Felon, 28 years for Evading Arrest/Detention with a Motor Vehicle, and 20 years for Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle.
Based upon his extensive criminal history, each of these offenses subjected Harris to enhanced punishment. Furthermore, as part of his plea agreement, Harris waived his right to appeal his sentences or convictions.
The State was prepared to show that on Feb. 21, 2017, Officer Joe Rosas of the Cleveland Police Department initiated a traffic stop on Harris. During this routine traffic stop, Harris put his vehicle in reverse and rammed and disabled Officer Ramos’ police unit.
Responding officers Erica Fleming and Jacob Malnar located Harris fleeing the scene in his motor vehicle. Thereafter, Harris led Fleming and Malnar, along with other local responding law enforcement agencies, on a 17-minute high-speed pursuit. During the pursuit, which reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, Harris attempted to ram Fleming and Malnar’s vehicle while traveling the wrong way down US Highway 59.
Eventually, Harris bailed from his vehicle and fled on foot. He was located by responding officers who were forced to use a taser in order to restrain Harris and take him into custody. After securing Harris, officers located methamphetamine and a shotgun inside the vehicle Harris was driving and also discovered that the vehicle had previously been reported stolen.
The Aggravated Assault of a Public Servant conviction will require that Harris serve at least 14 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Furthermore, eligibility for parole does not guarantee that parole will automatically be granted.
“It is bad enough when someone commits a felony. It is so much worse when they compound their crime by leading the police on a high-speed chase. These pursuits are incredibly dangerous. Harris’ actions risked the lives of every single man, woman, and child who were on the roads that evening,” said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Barnes.
District Attorney Jennifer L. Bergman added that Harris had no concern for the officers’ safety on the evening of his arrest.
“Our brave and dedicated law enforcement officers risk their lives each day to keep our communities safe. It is reprehensible to have such a blatant disregard for the lives of these officers and of the citizens in this county who travel local roadways with their families,” she said. “It was evident from Harris’ actions that night and his prior criminal history that a lengthy incarceration is the only hope for the safety of us all and the most appropriate response to these serious crimes. We can all sleep better tonight knowing that Harris will not be able to wreak havoc on our streets and threaten the safety of our peace officers and citizens.”