Officer killed in crash was driving while intoxicated, autopsy shows


The Baltimore police sergeant killed in an off-duty automobile accident last week was driving while intoxicated, according to an autopsy report released yesterday by police.

Sgt. Richard P. Harris, 35, had a blood alcohol content of .16 -- well over the legal limit of .07 for driving under the influence and .10 for driving while intoxicated.

Sergeant Harris, a 13-year veteran of the force, was assigned to the Northeastern District.

His death in an Oct. 14 crash that injured another officer and three civilians came one week after a Baltimore County officer died in a similar incident.

"It's a reminder to everyone, not just police officers, just what can happen when you're intoxicated and get behind the wheel of an automobile," police spokesman Sam Ringgold said yesterday.

Sergeant Harris' accident occurred about 5:45 a.m. in the 6200 block of Pulaski Highway in East Baltimore. Driving a 1994 Ford Mustang, he failed to make a U-turn and backed into the path of a pickup truck, Mr. Ringgold said.

"He tried to make the turn on Route 40, misjudged the opening and backed up to complete the turn," Mr. Ringgold said. "He failed to negotiate making the turn in one attempt. . . . He was at fault."

The driver of the truck, 37-year-old George E. Young, who was also injured in the crash, declined to comment yesterday from his home.

On the night of the accident, Sergeant Harris and Officer Jesse K. Schmidt, 38, visited McCallister's Cameo Lounge after their shift ended at 11 p.m. until the 2 a.m. closing time.

Marge McCallister, owner of the bar in the 4700 block of Harford Road, said yesterday that she did not know whether Sergeant Harris was drunk when he left. "I'm not sure, but I know he wasn't acting like he was drunk," she said.

A six-pack of Budweiser was found in Sergeant Harris' car, Mr. Ringgold said.

Three people who were passengers in the car also were injured (( in the crash. Officer Schmidt was hospitalized with internal abdominal injuries. Colleen Sneed, a 32-year-old barmaid at McCallister's, is listed in stable condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Joseph Huff, 22, a cook at the bar, was treated at Franklin Square Hospital and released.

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