Father of teenager shot and killed by Phoenix police calls for action after Justice Department report

Father of teenager shot and killed by Phoenix police calls for action after Justice Department report

PHOENIX – Nearly a month after the Justice Department released a scathing critique of the Phoenix Police Department, the father of Jacob Harris, his son at the center of a controversial 2019 Phoenix police shooting, is speaking out.

Roland Harris, Jacob’s father, said it was emotional listening to the press conference announcing the Justice Department’s findings. His son was 19 when Phoenix police officers shot him in the back, killing Jacob.

ABC15 has been covering the controversial police shooting since it first occurred in January 2019. It began when SWAT officers were conducting surveillance on a group of teenagers suspected of committing several armed robberies at fast-food restaurants. Police pursued their car for eight miles without lights or sirens. Eventually, they deployed a grapple and a flash grenade, shooting Jacob as he tried to run away.

Although police pulled the trigger, it was Jacob’s three friends – Johnny Reed, Suriah Busani and Jerimiah Triplett – who were ultimately charged with his death under Arizona’s murder law.

“He told him if he went to trial, he would definitely go to prison for life,” Reed’s aunt Shawanna Chambers said in 2023. “So he was basically forced to sign this deal.”

As ABC15 previously reported, all three reached a settlement before new information about the investigation came to light in an excessive force lawsuit filed by Jacob’s father.

Participants at Wednesday’s press conference said they called for the release of Jacob’s friends.

Roland’s lawsuit and subsequent appeal were dismissed in court. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also cleared the officers involved of any criminal wrongdoing.

“We must be held accountable for the excessive use of force by Phoenix police to ensure true safety in our communities,” said Jessica Walburn of Arizona Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander for Equity.

But Jacob’s father and other organizations said they would not stop fighting for change and pushing for federal oversight and action by city and county governments.

“Instead of trying to come out and say this report is wrong, maybe you should come out and check yourself and say this report is not wrong. We need to change something,” Roland said.

ABC15 reached out to the Phoenix Police Department and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) for comment prior to Wednesday’s press conference, but did not receive a response.