Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 350934 Honorable
John D. Mosely, Jr., Judge.
LOUSIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Sherry Watters, Counsel for
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee.
S. CRICHTON TOMMY JAN JOHNSON PAMELA ROXANNE MOSER Assistant
MOORE, STONE, and COX, JJ.
a jury trial, the defendant, Danny Harris, was found guilty
as charged of aggravated flight from an officer. Harris was
sentenced to serve 3½ years at hard labor and now
appeals his conviction. For the following reasons,
Harris' conviction and sentence are reversed.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Harris ("Harris") was arrested on July 19, 2017,
and charged with aggravated flight from an officer in
violation of La. R.S. 14:108.1(C). The jury trial began on
January 25, 2018, with the following testimony by Agent
Joseph Bassett ("Agent Bassett") and Agent Carlos
Glass-Bradley ("Agent Glass-Bradley"), of the
Shreveport Police Department.
Bassett testified that on July 19, 2017, around 12:45 p.m.,
he was driving his police vehicle east on Lakeshore Drive
near the intersection of Hearne Avenue. Agent Glass-Bradley
was in the passenger seat. On this particular day, the agents
were working in the Street Level Interdiction Unit, a police
unit which handled street-level narcotics offenses in high
crime areas. The agents noticed a silver Hyundai traveling
west on Lakeshore Drive, heading in their direction. Each
agent testified they first noticed the Hyundai, because it
had damage to it. Agent Bassett noticed the driver was not
wearing his seatbelt. Agent Bassett asked Agent Glass-Bradley
to confirm the driver was not wearing his seatbelt, which he
Bassett executed a U-turn and activated the lights and sirens
on the police vehicle. Agent Bassett testified the police
vehicle was standard for street level interdiction --- a dark
blue Ford sedan with no markings identifying it as a police
vehicle. The agents testified the police vehicle had a
spotlight mounted above the driver's side mirror,
emergency lights mounted on either side of the rearview
mirror, and a camera unit ("MVS") mounted below the
rearview mirror. Ordinarily, when police officers activate
their lights and/or sirens in their vehicles, the MVS will
turn on. Both Agent Bassett and Agent Glass-Bradley testified
that the MVS was not working that day, and that it had
malfunctioned a number of times before and after that date.
agents testified the lights and siren could be seen and heard
from a distance, and the Hyundai was close enough to their
police car for the driver of the Hyundai to have seen and
heard both. The driver of the Hyundai slowed down briefly
after the agent engaged the lights and siren but then sped
away from the police vehicle and turned south on Exposition
Street. Agent Bassett testified the Hyundai "ran a stop
sign at West College, Lillian, and Stonewall, I
believe." Agent Glass-Bradley testified the Hyundai ran
four stop signs on Exposition Street. This particular area of
Exposition Street is a residential neighborhood with no
sidewalk and has foot and car traffic.
Hyundai turned west on Frederick Street, and the agents saw
the driver throw a black item out of the passenger side
window. According to Agent Bassett, the Hyundai then ran two
stop signs at Milton Street and San Jacinto Avenue, before
turning south onto San Jacinto. The agents did not stop to
retrieve the package thrown from the Hyundai, because they
wanted to first detain the driver.
Bassett testified the Hyundai sped up on San Jacinto to at
least 50 mph in a 25 mph speed zone. Both agents testified
they knew the Hyundai's speed because they used
"pacing," a tactic in which a police officer tries
to maintain the same distance between the police vehicle and
the vehicle being pursued. Pacing allowed the agents to
determine the Hyundai's speed by simultaneously noting
the speed at which the agents were traveling.
Jacinto is also a residential street without a sidewalk. The
Hyundai ran several more stop signs on San Jacinto before
turning and heading east on Greenwood Road. Agent Bassett
paced the Hyundai at about 55 mph on Greenwood Road where the
speed limit was 35 mph. Greenwood Road is a high traffic,
four-lane street. The Hyundai turned south onto Velva Avenue,
which becomes Bolinger Drive, and runs west alongside the
state fairgrounds. Agent Bassett testified he had to drive 60
mph to keep up with the Hyundai on ...