Minister withdraws racial profiling complaint against Brooksville police

BROOKSVILLE — Elijah Harris, an African-American minister who said he was a victim of racial profiling by Brooksville Police officers responding to a Nov. 11 pizza shop robbery, has withdrawn his complaint against the department.

In a letter to Harris dated Monday, Brooksville Police Chief George Turner stated that Harris withdrew the complaint Wednesday after the minister reviewed audio dispatch tapes, police car video and other material used in the investigation. (Those materials can be seen at links.tampabay.com.)

Harris said Tuesday that he had not yet seen Turner's letter, but admitted that everything was cleared up in a meeting between the two last week.

"In my mind I was right at the time," he said. "But after showing me the video, I think I've gotten things straight.

"I'm a passive man and I don't want to cause any trouble,'' Harris added. "I was just worried at the time."

Turner said that he hoped Harris understood that he would never condone such behavior from his officers.

The two ended their meeting with a handshake.

Harris, 31, is pastor of Second Chance Restoration Ministries in Brooksville and an officer at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County.

On the day after the robbery, he told the St. Petersburg Times that he had entered the Little Caesars store on Broad Street moments after the armed robbery.

Officers responding to a 911 call then rushed inside with guns drawn and ordered him to get down on the floor.

Harris said that although there were two white customers in the store, he was the only person made to comply with the officers' demands. After a few moments, the officers left the store in pursuit of the robbers, who were later apprehended.

Turner said in a three-page memorandum that a review by a detective did not find any procedural violations by the officers. At the time, the detective interviewed police officers and store employees but not Harris.

Though a dispatcher gave no physical description of the robbers, Turner said the investigation found no evidence of racial profiling by his officers.

An employee inside the pizza store told the Times that Harris had been ordered to the ground. He later denied saying that when interviewed by a police detective.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

Minister withdraws racial profiling complaint against Brooksville police 12/01/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 11:08pm]

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