Durham police investigate officer's speeding charge

January 30, 2008 6:51:09 PM PST
At first, the highway patrol said its trooper did nothing wrong when he pulled over a Durham police officer for speeding.

The Highway Patrol says off-duty Durham Police Officer Anthony Harris was doing 84 miles an hour in a 45-zone and smelled of alcohol but was not arrested, nor did he get a speeding ticket.

Supervisors from the Highway Patrol Headquarters say they did not know high speed was a factor in this case. And they decided to step in when they saw the report on Eyewitness News.

On Saturday night, off-duty Harris was pulled over on his motorcycle, going 84 in a 45. The highway patrol trooper smelled alcohol on his breath. But Harris was not arrested or cited for speeding; his police supervisor was called to the scene and he got a ride home.

"The police are like mobsters. They just get away with crime," Raleigh Resident Ricardo Zambenedetti said. "They just do what they want to do and it's not right. They can do it and we can't."

On Tuesday, authorities had a change of heart. Harris is now charged with speeding by troopers and an internal review is underway by Durham police. As for Trooper David Smith, he is also under investigation to see if he gave a fellow officer special treatment.

"Those are some of the things we'll look into when we do the internal review. And see if there was something that we would consider to be improper conduct. And, if so, we'll take the appropriate steps," Highway Patrol, Colonel Fletcher Clay said.

Still, some wonder how appropriate those steps will be, when it takes days to change an officer going nearly 40 miles an hour over the speed limit through a residential neighborhood.

"They're supposed to honor and protect the state, people around them," Zambenedetti said. "That officer could've killed somebody just like I could have."

Officer Harris was given a breathalyzer at the scene, but the highway patrol is not releasing those results.


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