By Ryan Haggerty of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: April 26, 2010
Oak Creek — Oak Creek police officers shot and killed a 48-year-old man Monday morning after the man crashed his car into a building while leading police on a chase, then jumped into the driver's seat of an unoccupied police SUV and struck an officer with the vehicle, police officials said.
Police identified the man Monday night as Johnny Harris of Racine.
According to police: The incident began about 7:30 a.m. when a person who lives on E. Elm Road near state Highway 32 called police and said a suspicious man, later identified as Harris, had come to the door and asked if someone at the home had posted an item online advertising vehicle rims for sale.
Police later learned that another home on E. Elm Road had been burglarized sometime before 7:30 a.m. Investigators believe Harris was responsible for that burglary, in which a hunting bow was stolen, and was knocking on doors looking for more unoccupied homes to burglarize.
Harris has a criminal record that includes burglaries, Oak Creek Police Chief Thomas Bauer said.
Two officers in separate vehicles were sent to the neighborhood to investigate the report of a suspicious person.
One of the officers saw a black Cadillac sedan matching the description of the car Harris was driving. Harris didn't stop when the officer tried to pull him over, and sped south on Highway 32 into Caledonia.
Harris eventually lost control of the Cadillac, which smashed through the door of a building on the southwest corner of Highway 32 and 7 Mile Road.
The Cadillac became lodged in the building. Harris jumped out and ran around the back of the building.
The first officer on the scene left his SUV running and ran after Harris. The officer did not see Harris behind the building, so he ran back to the front of the building, where he saw Harris in the driver's seat of the police SUV.
By that time, another Oak Creek officer had arrived. Both officers - one on either side of the vehicle - ordered Harris to get out, but he struck one of the officers twice with the SUV. Both officers then fired shots into the SUV.
Harris was taken to a hospital in Racine, where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators do not believe he was armed, but a shotgun and other weapons were in the police SUV, Bauer said.
The officer who was struck by the SUV was treated for his injuries and released.
The driver's side window of the police SUV was shattered, and the SUV wound up with its front end in a ditch in front of the building where the chase ended.
Police investigating the incident will review video taken by cameras mounted in police vehicles, Bauer said. Four civilian witnesses verified the officers' accounts of the incident, he said.
Both officers who fired shots - a man who has been an Oak Creek officer for 14 years and another man who has been an Oak Creek officer for four years but has been a law enforcement officer for at least 10 years - have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a police shooting.
Neither officer's identity has been released.
Oak Creek and Caledonia police and the Milwaukee County and Racine County district attorney's offices are investigating the incident.
2 Oak Creek officers cleared in shooting death of suspect
By Jesse Garza of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: June 3, 2010
Two Oak Creek police officers have been cleared in the death of a burglary suspect they shot after, according to police, he struck one of them with a police squad he had commandeered.
Officers Walter Pendzich and Dean Kleinhans will not face disciplinary actions in the death April 26 of Johnny Harris, according to the Oak Creek Police Department.
Harris, 48, of Racine, led officers on a chase after reports that a man, later identified as Harris, might have been casing burglary targets in the area of E. Elm Road near state Highway 32. When police tried to pull over the car Harris was driving he sped south on into Caledonia, where he crashed through the door of a building.
Harris left the car and got into a running, unoccupied police SUV and again tried to flee when Pendzich and Kleinhans, one on each side of the vehicle, ordered him to get out.
When Harris struck Pendzich both officers shot into the SUV, according to Oak Creek police.
Harris, who was not armed, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, concluded the actions of the officers, "were a reasonable and privileged use of force under the circumstances," according to a news release from Oak Creek Police.