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El Cajon Police deny claims that officers were involved in man's death

Posted at 3:28 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 18:28:15-05

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) — El Cajon Police and the NAACP say they are trying to reach out to the family of a man hit and killed by a car last week after family and friends accused police of shooting the man.

Police say the protest stemmed from a Nov. 25 traffic fatality involving Stephen Harris, 29, of El Cajon. Harris was hit by a vehicle just before 9 p.m. in the 300 block of West Chase Ave. and died at the scene, according to police.

EPD says the driver who hit Harris remained at the scene and tried to provide first aid to him, along with the help of a passenger in the vehicle. Police do not suspect the driver of driving under the influence or speeding at the time of the crash. Witnesses told police Harris suddenly walked into the roadway at the time of the crash, EPD added.

Surveillance footage reportedly showed Harris leaving a nearby convenience store and stumbling before the collision, police said. Officials said a toxicology report is being conducted, but police said preliminary testing showed drugs and alcohol in Harris' system at the time of his death.

Family and friends of Harris arrived at the scene after the crash and accused police of being involved in Harris' death, saying officers were stalking him, shot him, and were trying to cover it up. During a protest on Nov. 30, family and friends continued their accusations against the department, with some protesters obstructing traffic.

Police say at one point, a protester kicked a passing vehicle and another person reported that a protester pointed a handgun at them.

EPD, the San Diego branch of the NAACP, and the county Medical Examiner's office say they have tried to contact Harris' family about his death, but that the family has not responded.

Francine Maxwell, President of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, issued a statement saying in part that the police department is being as transparent as possible in Harris' death:

"The NAACP San Diego branch was contacted by a member of the branch regarding a death of their family member. The president Francine Maxwell reached out to the chief of police of El Cajon and received preliminary details and I also obtained information from the Captain. I offered my condolences and prayers to the Harris Family and I shared the details with a Harris family member. Although the information wasn't well-received the police department has tried to share as much as they could of the early stages of the investigation. The NAACP San Diego branch believes in peaceful protest and people exercising their right to lawfully assemble. We urge everyone to assist the family in their grieving process and wait to receive the reports from the investigation. We understand that there is a history of interactions between the department and the family and we hope that both sides would have the opportunity to sit and go over everything peacefully and respectfully when time permits. The NAACP San Diego branch respectfully request that those who decide to assemble peacefully do so without interfering with traffic flow or any disruption to the flow of business that needs to occur near the building. The NAACP San Diego branch stands ready to assist the El Cajon police department and the Harris Family come to have a conversation in the near future."