Council member accuses police of lying - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council member accuses police of lying

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - Four members of the West Memphis City Council said Wednesday that police are lying about an incident that lead to the arrest of a former Council member.

Former Council member Helen Harris is charged with misdemeanors and felonies after police say she cursed at them, drove off with an officer holding on to her arm, and then had to be pried off the door of her business so officers could arrest her.

Wednesday, four West Memphis City Council member called a news conference to defend Harris.

"The allegations are far from being the truth," Council member Lorraine Robinson said. "We feel the police report has been embellished."

And, Robinson said, it's not the first time.

"The West Memphis Police Department has gotten away with many things so there continues to be abuse," she said. "They feel they can get away with it."

West Memphis Police Officer D.J. O'Clare, the man who arrested Harris, spoke exclusively with Action News 5 Tuesday, insisting Harris did drive off.

"I'm holding on to her left arm and she drove me probably 10 feet," he said. "My right side hit the door of the vehicle and I spun off."

O'Clare said he hurt his back and lost a shoe, but he'll be okay. 

The incident involving Harris happened after she approached police while they were arresting her 42-year-old son for fleeing and public intoxication. 

West Memphis police chief Bob Paudert defended his officers and has this advice for citizens:

"When a police officer approaches you, it's very simple. You don't run, you don't fight, you don't resist and you don't get hurt," he said.

There is police video of part of what happened. We're told it shows Harris speeding down three blocks in a residential neighborhood running two stop signs. That video was shot from a camera on a marked West Memphis police car. But that's all, because the officers who tried to question Harris son were working a safe streets detail, meaning they did not wear microphones and their unmarked cars did not have cameras.

Harris and her son could end up going to trial.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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