Trial Begins For Officer Accused Of Pulling Gun At Fayetteville Bar
The trial began Wednesday for an officer accused of pulling a gun at a Fayetteville bar last year.
Former Little Rock officer Jeffery Harris’ aggravated assault trial began around 2:30 p.m. in Washington County Circuit Court, immediately following jury selection. A jury made up of eight women and four men was seated before opening statements began, according to the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office.
Harris is also charged with disorderly conduct and harassment, according to court documents. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in August 2013.
Another officer Harris was with at the time, Rex Frederick, pleaded guilty in November to charges of harassment and disorderly conduct. He received a 12-month suspended sentence and one day in jail, according to court documents.
Both officers were fired from their respective police departments following an altercation in April 2013 at Billy’s Bar and Grill in Fayetteville. Surveillance video from the bar that night apparently shows at least one of the two policemen with a gun drawn inside the bar during a verbal altercation.
Frederick was fired from the Prairie Grove Police Department later that month, while Harris was fired from the Little Rock Police Department in September, according to the men’s termination letters. Harris’ termination letter states he was drunk, drew his weapon and “recklessly waived it at patrons of the bar.”
The two officers were arrested Aug. 1 on suspicion of disorderly conduct and harassment, according to Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case.
Harris also was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault.
Frederick was booked into the Washington County Detention Center on Aug. 1 and released a short time later on a $2,500 bond. Harris was briefly booked on the same day and also was released on a $2,500 bond, records show.
Adam Morano, the manager at Billy’s, said the incident happened after the bar owner’s son asked a visitor to leave because he and two friends had been causing problems with a group of regulars called the Polecats, who were participating in the bar’s Karaoke night.
Three days after the incident, Frederick and Harris were suspended from duty with pay.
The two off-duty officers were not arrested the night of the incident, nor were they given breathalyzers or blood-alcohol tests, police said. Officials said both officers had been drinking.
Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor said the two weren’t arrested at the scene because of conflicting statements from witnesses.
“The disturbance was over when we arrived,” he said. “A lot of the facts were disputed. I think the only thing that wasn’t disputed is that the officers had too much to drink.”