A man arrested in connection with the car chase that led to the death of a Milwaukee Police officer Thursday evening had signed a signature bond just a week earlier despite a record of skipping court proceedings.
Ladell W. Harrison, 28, was believed to be driving the Volkswagen Passat that officers Charles Irvine, Jr. and Matthew Schulze chased before they lost control of their squad car and crashed near 76th and Silver Spring. Irvine, Jr., 23, was killed while Schulze was injured.
Court records indicate that on Thursday, May 30th--exactly one week before the crash--Milwaukee County court commissioner Barry Phillips granted Harrison a $500 signature bond in an operating a vehicle after license revocation (alcohol, drugs, or refusal to take a sobriety test) case.
Harrison was arrested on February 16th, 2017 but never showed up to his initial court appearance. Court commissioner David Sweet issued an arrest warrant, and Harrison was taken into custody and appeared in court on March 3rd, 2017. Despite his failure to appear at his initial court appearance, intake court commissioner Grace Flynn allowed Harrison to sign a $100 signature bond.
Harrison attended his next few court appearances, but disappeared when his plea/sentencing hearing came up in Milwaukee County Judge Jean Marie Kies' courtroom on September 25th, 2017, Harrison was gone.
Once again, an arrest warrant was issued, but this time Harrison couldn't be found for nearly eight months, eventually returning to court on May 30th, 2018. Inexplicably, court commissioner Barry Phillips allowed Harrison to sign a $500 signature bond.
Exactly one week and one day later he was allegedly behind the wheel again, leading Officer Irvine on the chase that would kill him.
So why exactly was Harrison out of custody in the first place? Why did Phillips allow him to sign his name instead of posting any actual bond after Harrison had already ditched court appearances twice before--including one disappearance of nearly a year?
Making matters even worse, Harrison has a history of refusing to comply with court orders dating back more than a decade. In 2007, he was cited for driving without a valid license and ordered to pay a fine of $186. He never did, so his license was suspended. He still never paid. Eventually, the court seized $157.02 through a tax intercept--a seizure of funds either from Harrison's state income tax refund or tax credits.
Three years later, Harrison was cited for driving with a suspended license (second offense) and ordered to pay a $204 fine. Unsurprisingly, he didn't, and his license was suspended again for failure to pay. The fine was sent to a collections agency and it is unclear whether Harrison ever paid.
In spite of all of this--two separate non-payments and two non-appearances in court--Harrison was somehow granted signature bond and somehow, without having to pay a dime, out of jail and on the streets; able to lead a Milwaukee Police officer to his death.