Deadly Force Incident footage released

Cranston Police post body cam video of Johnston murder suspect’s shooting

Posted 7/3/23

Cranston Police have released their officers’ body-worn camera footage from the May 24 officer-shooting of Johnston murder suspect James Harrison.

Rhode Island State Police and Cranston …

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Deadly Force Incident footage released

Cranston Police post body cam video of Johnston murder suspect’s shooting


Cranston Police have released their officers’ body-worn camera footage from the May 24 officer-shooting of Johnston murder suspect James Harrison.

Rhode Island State Police and Cranston Police officers opened fire on Harrison, 52, of 4 Ligian Court, underneath the Interstate 295 overpass along Plainfield Pike, along the Cranston/Johnston border.

Earlier that morning, police responded to Ligian Court to discover two deceased shooting victims and a 15-year-old Johnston girl suffering from a gunshot wound.

Harrison was spotted, lost and ultimately tracked down in a Cranston cemetery. The region’s police pursued him through several municipalities prior the shoot-out later that morning.

Witnesses say more than 50 gunshots were fired at Harrison, who was believed to be armed.

Multiple Cranston Police officers can be seen holding a variety of firearms in the 15 video files posted to the department’s website Tuesday.

“The videos are on our website under the body camera tab,” Cranston Police spokesman Maj. Todd Patalano said Wednesday morning. “Also, we will not be commenting due to an ongoing multi-agency investigation by the RI State Police, Cranston Police and RI Attorney General’s (Office). No other information can be provided at this time and the videos were released as part of a requirement of a statewide body-worn camera policy for transparency.”

In a disclaimer on their website, Cranston Police said they are releasing “all Body Worn Camera (BWC) footage” from the incident, however, “certain portions of the BWC footage have been redacted in accordance” with the state’s BWC legislation.

“The Body Worn Camera (BWC) recordings and other recordings, images, photographs pertaining to this matter are part of an ongoing investigation for which criminal charges may be pending,” Cranston Police warn the public before they view the videos. “Any statements accompanying the video are limited to a factual recitation describing the context of the BWC Recording (e.g., source, date, time, place); The Body Worn Camera (BWC) Recording may not depict all of the circumstances relevant to the event in question and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty; and Body Worn Camera (BWC) Recordings provide a limited view of the event, may capture sights and sounds that officers did not personally hear or observe, and should be considered with all other available evidence.”

Cranston Police also warn viewers that the footage “contains graphic and disturbing images, along with foul language” and “viewer discretion is strongly advised.”

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. wouldn’t discuss the ongoing investigations, but weighed in early Wednesday morning after viewing the footage.

 “I cannot speak to the specifics of the case as the Attorney General is still in the middle of their investigation,” Polisena said. “However, I did see the body camera video and I’m incredibly proud and grateful to the men and women of the Johnston, Cranston and Providence police departments for their quick and decisive action on that day.”

A body-worn camera program has also been approved for Johnston Police, but it remains in its earliest phases of implementation.

“Regarding updates to the Johnston Police Department itself, we have just started the body camera program and it’s currently in its pilot stages,” Polisena explained. “We anticipate that to evolve to the entire department in the near future.  Also, the Town is implementing Flock cameras at various locations throughout Johnston to not only better protect the public but to also better protect our police officers.  I am in full support of both these initiatives and I also anticipate they will not be the last when it comes to modernizing the Johnston Police Department.”

Johnston Town Council approved the placement of three Flock cameras on major thoroughfares in Johnston earlier this month. The cameras can help law enforcement locate vehicles bearing registration plates from a police “Hot List.”

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s Office is leading a multi-agency investigation into the police-shooting of Harrison.

“This investigation is still ongoing,” said Brian Hodge, a spokesman for Neronha’s office, who responded to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

On the morning of May 24, police arriving on the initial Ligian Court crime scene spotted the first victim — May’s daughter. After additional officers arrived on the scene, they found, Thomas May, age 44, a Johnston Little League coach, dead in the garage of the residence, “from a fatal gunshot wound to his head,” according to police.

“The juvenile identified Harrison as the shooter,” Vieira said via press release following the shooting. “Officers were unable to locate Harrison and a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) was issued to surrounding law enforcement agencies regarding Harrison and the vehicle he was operating. The juvenile was immediately transported by Johnston Fire Department rescue personnel to Hasbro Children’s Hospital where she received treatment for her injuries that were serious, however, not life-threatening.”

Police entered Harrison’s home at 4 Ligian Court and found a third victim, whom police identified as the suspect’s mother, Janet Harrison, 83. Police confirmed she “was also deceased from a fatal gunshot wound to the head.”

For the next few hours, law enforcement watched out for signs of Harrison’s Buick Encore and he was eventually spotted by an off-duty Cranston dispatcher hiding out at St. Ann Cemetery. He was followed and eventually died from gunshot wounds after crashing his vehicle on Plainfield Pike.

View the Cranston Police BWC footage.


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