Court opinion links command officer to corruption

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Federal judges have linked a high ranking St. Louis police officer to corruption, yet the officer remains active duty and in a commanding position. 

The judges linked 34-year veteran, Lt. Col. Reggie Harris to a conspiracy and cover-up.  Some of the court opinion read like a movie script.  It's a 26-page court document written August 5th, 2013 by judges with the Eighth Circuit of Appeals.  The documents say Harris' actions may be linked to the beating of a pregnant 17-year-old girl.  And the judges believe Harris conspired while he was the head of SLMPD`s Internal Affairs Division.

It all started on a street in St. Louis County, in the town of Riverview.  Former Officer Henrietta Arnold arrested her son`s girlfriend, reportedly because Arnold didn`t want the girl in her home here.  Then, according to court records, Officer Arnold and other officers conspired against the young girl.  The officers reportedly created a fake witness and claimed the girl was trespassing at a different address in St. Louis City.

Another St. Louis Police officer caught onto it and blew the whistle.   That's when it's reported that Lt. Col. Reggie Harris intervened.

According to the court opinion, Harris 'disclosed confidential information to Arnold in order to assist her in concealing facts sought by investigators.'

The judges say the leak of information nearly had deadly consequences, because Arnold`s 17-year-old son started pressuring his girlfriend to change her account. He reportedly became so enraged that he 'choked and beat (his pregnant girlfriend) to the point of causing a punctured lung.

Three officers accused in the conspiracy no longer work for the St. Louis Police Department, but commanding officer Harris? He`s now one of four deputy chief`s in a command position.

The judges write, Harris was 'never interviewed by SLMPD.'

Attorney Lynette Petruska said, "I think it`s pretty incredible, given the way lower ranked officers are disciplined, that Reggie Harris is still on the job."

Attorney Lynette Petruska recently handled a different case.  Her client, a police Sgt., won a $620,000 discrimination lawsuit, which in part, names Lt. Col. Reggie Harris.

Petruska added, "In our case, he was found to have intentionally violated somebody`s civil rights. I mean this isn`t something he did by accident or mistake.  These laws are well known, and he thinks that because of his rank apparently he can disregard the law."

SLMPD would not agree to talk, only e-mailing me, "We do not comment on ongoing litigation."  The August 5th opinion, we mentioned first, may also be costly because it allows the targeted girl and her attorney Jeff Jensen, to move forward with their lawsuit.

Read the complete Court opinion

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