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Police arrest man accused of stealing Seattle officer’s vehicle after she was fatally struck

Investigators believe the man caused a three-car crash that first prompted Officer Alexandra Harris to stop to help before she was killed

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The Seattle Times/Seattle Police Department

By David Gutman
The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — A King County judge Saturday, found sufficient probable cause to continue holding the man accused of stealing a Seattle police officer’s personal vehicle after she was struck by a car and killed while assisting people involved in a crash.

The 49-year-old man was arrested late Thursday on investigation of felony hit-and-run — for what authorities say was his role in causing the crash — theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen firearm and identity theft.

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Seattle Police Officer Alexandra “Lexi” Harris

Seattle Police Department

The man, according to the Washington State Patrol, was driving a stolen U-Haul when he rear-ended another vehicle, leading to the three-car collision Sunday on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Officer Alexandra “Lexi” Harris, 38, was off-duty and pulled over to help with the collision and was struck and killed by a fourth vehicle.

According State Patrol, the man then stole Harris’ vehicle and dumped it about two miles away in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Police say he then stole her backpack from the car, including her badge and gun and fled on foot, before returning to wipe down the vehicle.

He has not been charged, his next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday. The Seattle Times generally does not name suspects until charges have been filed.

King County District Court Judge Laurel Gibson ordered the man held on $325,000 bail. The $325,000 total includes $250,000 for the incident on I-5 Sunday, and $75,000 bail for a January incident in North Seattle for which the man is being held on investigation of drug possession with intent to distribute, possession of fake IDs, possession of a stolen firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors said the man has had 16 arrest warrants issued since 1996, including one current, active warrant for the North Seattle incident.

The man waived his right to appear in court Saturday, and was represented by a King County public defender.

Harris was driving home after a weekend shift when she came across the crash scene near South Forest Street and was killed after getting out of her car, according to Seattle police and the State Patrol, which is leading the investigation.

The three-car collision happened just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the HOV lane of southbound Interstate 5, where traffic had piled up from an earlier 10- to 13-car collision, police said Sunday. The earlier incident occurred around 11:43 p.m. Saturday on southbound I-5 near Spokane Street.

Police have said the driver of the vehicle that struck Harris is cooperating with investigators.

Harris died from multiple blunt-force injuries and her death was ruled an accident, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The man ordered held Saturday was previously arrested in March of this year, after police said they found him asleep behind the wheel of a stolen car, with a gun and drugs.

He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, violation of the uniform controlled substances act with the intent to manufacture or deliver, and unlawful possession of payment instruments.

He was released a week later after he posted bond on $50,000 bail.

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