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CMU student sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting an officer

 Rachel Harrison and her lawyer Todd Levitt confront Harrison's mother and grandmother after receiving her sentence of three years probation and over a year in prison in the Isabella County Court House on Wednesday afternoon.


Rachel Harrison and her lawyer Todd Levitt confront Harrison’s mother and grandmother after receiving her sentence of three years probation and six months in jail in the Isabella County Court House on Wednesday afternoon. (Morgan Taylor | Assistant Photo Editor)

Standing before the judge, Rachel Harrison choked back sobs as she heard her verdict.

Harrison, a Central Michigan sophomore from Saint Peters, Mo. was sentenced by Isabella Trial Court Judge Paul Chamberlain to six months in jail and three years of probation. She received three concurrent sentences of assaulting an officer, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and assault with a weapon.

“I am truly sorry for what happened that night,” Harrison said. “I had no intention of harming anybody, I had the intention of trying to help a friend out that night, and it just went bad very quickly.”

Harrison is also subject to $1,945 in fines as well as a psychological assessment to be administered during her incarceration. According to court documents, Harrison threatened and pulled a knife on Mount Pleasant Police Officer Angela Brown last November.

Brown addressed the courtroom during the trial, supported by several police officers in attendance. On the night of the incident, Brown said she was on duty observing the Phi Mu house, the sorority of which Harrison was a member. The house is located at 802 S. Main St. Harrison approached Brown’s vehicle and asked for assistance. Brown said Harrison entered the vehicle and took out a hunting knife with a gut hook on the end and said, “I have a problem with you.”

“She was given several commands to drop the knife,” Brown said. “I remember thinking in my mind that I was justified in shooting Ms. Harrison based on her actions. I wanted to give her every opportunity to drop the knife, even at the risk of my own safety.”

In the months following the incident, Brown said she suffered anxiety attacks.

“This court is the last bastion against civil disobedience,” Chamberlain said. “It is disobedience when law enforcement go and do their job are subject to rocks, bottles and knives. There’s no place for that in this community or any civilized society.”

Defense attorney Todd Levitt represented Harrison and attempted to appeal to Chamberlain to reduce the sentence.  Levitt cited the Holmes Youthful Training Act- MCL 762.11, that aims to give youthful offenders a second chance.

If a Michigan criminal defendant between the ages of 17 and 20 years old is granted HYTA status, the judge could place that defendant on probation and the charges would be dismissed after completing the probation period. The case would also be removed from the public record.

Chamberlain denied Levitt’s request. Chamberlain stated that he believed Harrison’s actions were not the result of immaturity but were instead calculated decisions to engage the officer. This decision was based on a statement made by Harrison in the police report filed after her initial arrest on Nov. 26.

According to the report, Harrison said, “I had no intention of hurting Detective Brown. I just wanted to scare her.”

Prosecuting attorney Pete Holmes argued that this meant her actions were deliberate. Holmes made comparisons between Harrison’s case with other unlawful behavior in the Mount Pleasant community, citing the recent city ordinance against couch burning and bottles thrown at police and fire officials last weekend.

“I think what puts this particular HYTA petition aside from the others is the nature of the event,” Holmes said. “Allowing Ms. Harrison to get off of these charges will send a message loud and clear in particular to the campus community that it is open season on police officers.”

Levitt worried of the precedent set by the ruling.

“This is just tragic all around,” he said. “Officer Brown has to live with the mental scars of what took place for the rest of her life and my client’s life is destroyed as well.”

Brown said she hopes to move on from the assault.

“I’m ready to put it behind me and move forward,” she said after the sentencing.

14 Comments

  1. CM Life Commenter says:

    I realize that learning how to write court lingo and convey it for print can be tricky, but this story is a mess. Between the link, the cutline on the photo and the actual information in the story there are three different time periods listed for the defendant’s jail sentence.

    A person cannot be charged with “concurrent sentences,” defendants are charged with crimes and a judge at sentencing determines if the sentences imposed will be served concurrently or consecutively.

    At sentencing hearings, judges do not read verdicts nor do they reach verdicts at all, a jury of one’s peers reaches a verdict after a trial.

    There is no mention of whether she pleaded guilty or if she was convicted by a jury after a trial and no mention of when the actual incident took place.

    Oh yeah, there are a few glaring spelling errors in the video

    This is confusing to read. I’m not trying to be hyper critical or cruel but this is not CM Life-quality writing.

  2. Anxiety attacks… Really? Wow! Pretty skiddish for a cop—pathetic.

  3. Gregg Barr says:

    Had any man done the same, showing a knife and saying “I have a problem with you”, He would be dead. But had the officer got him to stop and arrested him he would have been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison. What justification could there possibly be for such a petty sentence. If you are a woman in Michigan courts, you can get away with murder…literally!.

    • Anonymous says:

      Way to assert something you think as fact, and be sexist at the same time, man.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait who did she murder? What did she get away with she didn’t even touch the cop, punishment fits the crime in my eyes

  4. Former CMLifer says:

    Cutline of photo: says prison
    Story: says jail

    It’s not a big issue probably just a typo or such but it just confused me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Uhhhh is no one going to comment on the fact that her family seems to be yelling at her? Apparently being sentence to prison isn’t enough, she also has to be publicly shamed by her family.

    • I believe the family members are the ones being publically shamed by having this screwup for a relative in all the newspapers!

      • Sally for one im gonna stand her for Rachel as she is my cousin she’s not a screw up for one. She made a mistake im sure you haven’t made any mistakes in your life right? your perfect right. I know what this girl has gone trough in her life. how would you feel if someone called your family member a screw up? it would make you mad right. maybe you should think before you speak. you wasn’t there when all this took place and neither was i but you have no right what so ever to call her a screw up. she made one mistake and now she has to pay for it. If you only knew half of what this girl has went trough in her her short life. Also Sally im sure if you have kids they have never made any mistakes like you right? they are the perfect kids right? At least she’s not out selling her self doing drugs stealing drinking and driving etc.

  6. Why is the accused and her attorney “confronting” her own family members, who are in no way involved with the crime?!
    The photo and description make no sense within the context of the story.

  7. This is my neice i dont think that she had any thought of hurting the officer but I agree she should not of taken the knife out of her pocket. I just thank god that the officer didnt shoot her. this could of had a worse ending than itdid at least we still have Rachael to love. we all make mistakes this could of been a bad one. we all love you Rachael

    • I agree mom. Im so glad we still have Rachel. Hopefully she will learn from this. I will always love you Rachel no matter what.

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