I-Team: SU police officer arrested on felony charge

Published: Jul. 25, 2012 at 9:15 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2014 at 6:05 PM CDT
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Randolph Harrell (Source: EBRSO)
Randolph Harrell (Source: EBRSO)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Southern University police officer may be asked to turn in his badge, and the 9 News I-Team has learned it's not the first time.

According to a report by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, Randolph Harrell, an officer at the university, got into an argument with a customer outside of an audio store on Plank Road.

Harrell was booked and charged with felony aggravated assault.

According to the arrest report, the victim, a customer at the store, said Harrell and another guy "pointed a dark colored handgun, which resembled a Ruger at him and the other unknown black male pointed what appeared to be an AK-47 at him."

Store employees ran inside the store and called 911, but after deputies left they said the two men came back, parked behind the fence at a business next door and waved their guns out of their windows.

The report states, "at 12:13 p.m., deputies returned after a witness called back to report the accused passed back a second time ... Pointing a gun out of the window."

An hour later, a third call to deputies "to report the accused had passed again heading north on Plank Road and pointed the weapon again."

"Whenever an officer is involved in such matters they're called in and talked to and put on administrative leave," Southern University Police Chief Ronald Stevens said.

After the arrest, Stevens said he sent internal affairs officers to Harrell's house to let him know an investigation was underway.

"I take a misdemeanor arrest just as serious as I do a felony arrest. We are police officers, hired to enforce the law not break it and if I got out and break it then how is it that I can go out and enforce it," Stevens said.

It was not the first time Harrell found himself on the wrong side of the law. Former Southern University Interim Police Chief Terry Landry said less than a year into Harrell's job as a police officer, three years ago, he had to ask Harrell to resign or be fired.

"During the probationary period of his employment there was an incident where Mr. Harrell allegedly fired his weapon at a car he had some type of altercation with at his residence," Landry said.

Landry said Harrell never reported the incident.

Current Chief Stevens said he rehired Harrell in April of this year. But not before doing a thorough background check. He said he called the Pointe Coupee, Tangipahoa and St. Helena Sheriffs' offices, where Harrell worked after leaving Southern.

"That's one of the first questions I asked, if they would hire him back and I got the nod that they would have and he was a good officer while he was there," Stevens explained.

Landry said Chief Stevens never called him about Harrell.

"I'm just astonished that this young man was hired back because his patterns are laid out and if they had done adequate research... I know no one called me and asked what I thought about it," Landry said.

Chief Stevens said he expects to know the internal affairs investigation to be complete in less than 60 days.

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