A Logan County grand jury found no wrongdoing in the shooting death of Joseph R. Harris at the hands of three police officers.
On Friday, the grand jury heard testimony from Kentucky State Police Lt. Tim Adams in the shooting of Harris and they decided that the police officers were acting within their authority when they shot and killed Harris on March 15.
The grand jury released a statement after reaching their decision.
It said, “Upon listening to the testimony of Lt. Adams and viewing all the evidence provided, we find that the officers were acting within their authority. We wish that the situation would have been resolved a different way and that the collateral damage to our community could have been minimized. We commend the officers of our community for doing a difficult job in difficult circumstances.”
Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling said that the decision to bring results of the investigation to a grand jury was one that she reached in conjunction with Russellville Police chief Victor Shifflet and the KSP.
“We were all on the same page,” Guiling said. “It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to make the call themselves, and I would have felt comfortable doing that, but we felt like the community might feel more confident in the results if that decision was made by the 12 citizens of the grand jury after they heard all the evidence.”
Guiling said she agreed with the decision of the grand jury.
“It was a difficult situation that was handled by the officers properly,” Guiling said. “It was not an outcome that anyone would have wished for.”
The shooting occurred on March 15 when Harris pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot around lunch time and shot his former girlfriend, Amanda Harper, 28, of Russellville, who was waiting in the drive-through line in her vehicle.
Harris then fled the scene on foot. Harper left the parking lot in her vehicle and pulled across North Main Street where she then exited the roadway and struck a building.
Harris then walked north on Main Street where he encountered responding Russellville Police Department Sergeant Morris Kisselbaugh and officers Stephen Meredith and Seth Whittaker, who had previously been having lunch at Subway when they got the call.
Upon being challenged by police, Harris brandished a firearm towards the officers, according to the KSP. At this point, all three officers fired at Harris and he was struck approximately three times. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene by the Logan County Coroner Mary Givens.
Vanna Krang, 48 of Russellville, was inside the Russellville Donut shop across from where Harris was shot. Krang was struck once in the neck by gunfire.
To contact OJ Stapleton, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.