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Why police didn’t let Christopher Harris’ mother talk him down

Christopher Harris was shot eight times by SWAT members
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 7:27 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - After a police standoff that led to the deaths of both the suspect and a Toledo Police officer, residents and family members want to know how police negotiate with suspects and if officers could have waited a little longer before shooting tear gas into the house.

Crystal Harris says she would have been able to talk her son down and save lives.

“I guarantee you. It can’t be proven now, but if I would have walked in the door, my son would’ve come out of there alive with handcuffs, and I guarantee you nobody would’ve been shot and killed,” said Crystal Harris.

Toledo Police Chief George Kral says there were three negotiators on the scene and that he would never put anyone in harm’s way.

“I appreciate her wanting to help her son. I get it. I’m a parent myself, but there is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to let someone into a barricaded house where we know the suspect has a weapon and he has made homicidal threats on Facebook,” Kral said.

Chief Kral says his officers followed all departmental procedures. He says his critical incident negotiating team used a cell phone to try and get Christopher Harris to come out.

“He would answer the phone. He would talk for 30 or 40 seconds and widely incoherent statements and then hang up. It would happen again and again and again for about two hours,” said Chief Kral.

The chief says there’s no time limit on negotiations. It’s up to his command officers to determine what happens next when negotiations fail.

Kral said Harris fired nine rounds. Investigators say the firearms were legally registered to Harris. He had no significant criminal history until he allegedly vandalized the church and the deadly shooting incident.

His mother says her son refused to get help for his mental illness.

“Chris is love and that’s all he talked about was love. Those weren’t hate crimes. He was hurt,” said Crystal Harris.

TPD’s critical incident negotiating team goes through 40 hours of training and sometimes has joint training with the SWAT team.

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