Tenn. LEO 'seriously injured' after suspect flees scene, crashes with cop in car

The officer was searching the vehicle when the suspect leaped into the driver's seat and fled the scene

By Hayley Fowler
The Charlotte Observer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A stakeout at a local gun show in Tennessee ended with a police officer trapped in the back seat of a minivan as it drove into oncoming traffic, according to federal investigators.

Now a 35-year-old man with ties to the Bloods street gang in Detroit is behind bars.

Michael Harris was charged with kidnapping, drug possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm after prosecutors said police found meth, marijuana, heroin, guns, magazines and ammunition in the rental van he abandoned at the scene of a crash.

The police officer, who was still inside the van when it wrecked, was hospitalized with a broken arm and “significant blood loss,” authorities said.

Harris was arrested in nearby woods and remains in jail.

A public defender representing him did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on April 27.

According to a court affidavit written by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Harris appeared on their radar at the RK Gun Show in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Sunday, April 24. The agent said they were at the show to gather intelligence on dealers selling guns without licenses, prohibited individuals buying guns and gang members.

They were also keeping an eye out for straw purchasers, or people who buy guns on behalf of others.

ATF agents spotted Harris at the gun show and observed him buying firearms and accessories while on FaceTime — which they said can often be an indicator of a straw purchase.

Officers later observed Harris piling the guns in the back of a red Chrysler minivan, which took multiple trips, investigators said. They followed Harris when he left the gun show and eventually tracked him to a Shell gas station off a busy stretch of highway in northeast Knoxville, according to the affidavit.

An officer and a sergeant with the Knoxville Police Department approached the van at the gas station and “smelled the odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle,” the ATF agent said.

Harris was asked to get out of the minivan as the police sergeant began searching the back seat for drugs. According to the affidavit, Harris was standing unrestrained about 10 feet behind the van and next to a police cruiser as the sergeant conducted his search.

That’s when investigators said Harris suddenly leaped into the driver’s seat of the minivan and took off with the sergeant still inside. Another officer tried to taze him, according to the affidavit, but Harris was undeterred.

“In the vehicle, (the sergeant) attempted to subdue Harris and gain control of the vehicle; a struggle ensued,” the ATF agent said. “Harris drove the vehicle into the South bound lane of Clinton Highway and hit a vehicle head on causing a violent crash.”

Harris then tried to flee on foot into nearby woods, where he was arrested shortly thereafter, the agent said.

When police searched the van, they reportedly found over 900 grams of meth, 15 grams of weed, about 2 grams of what appeared to be heroin, a .40 caliber pistol and other guns and accessories, ammo and $7,100 in cash.

Harris told investigators during an interview that he “just likes guns,” according to the affidavit.

Harris waived his right to a detention hearing and remains in custody, court documents show. A preliminary hearing is set for May 5.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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