Attorney says man shot in the head by police may never be competent for trial

Nov 2 2012 - 6:08am



FARMINGTON -- The defense attorney for the man who was shot in the head by a Layton police officer said his client may never be competent to stand trial.

Two doctors have evaluated Brian Lane Harris, 23, and both have found him incompetent to stand trial, said Bill Albright, defense attorney.

Albright appeared with Harris in 2nd District Court on Thursday for a mental competency hearing. Another hearing is set for Nov. 8.

Albright said in court that his client does not qualify to go to the Utah State Hospital for treatment. The hospital only takes those who are mentally ill or have a mental disability, Albright said.

"They do not take someone with an acquired brain trauma, and that's what my client has, since part of his brain was shot out," Albright said.

After the hearing, Albright said Harris has a "very tentative understanding" of why he is in court.

Harris is charged with second-degree felony discharge of a firearm with injury; class A misdemeanor failure to stop at the command of police; class B misdemeanor commission of domestic violence; third-degree felony aggravated assault; and third-degree felony obstructing justice.

The first two charges stem from a March 21 shooting incident, when police said Harris shot his live-in girlfriend. The last three charges regard a domestic violence incident at the same location in February, according to court documents.

At the next hearing, Judge Robert J. Dale plans to sign an order that will put Harris in the custody of the Department of Human Services and will order that Harris be put in secure custody so doctors can help him.

"They cannot rehabilitate him," Albright said. "There is nothing they can do to restore his competency, but they can work on what's left (of his brain) and that's where we are now."

Albright said he is working with Harris' family to find a permanent program for Harris.

Harris was arrested and booked in Davis County Jail in June, but has been released on a $25,000 bail.

Albright said Harris is attending therapy now.

Deputy Davis County Attorney Richard Larsen told the judge his office wants Harris in a secured facility because of "the violent nature" of the crimes Harris is charged with.

The Davis County Attorney's Office in April cleared Layton Police Officer John Lynch of shooting Harris, saying the shooting was justified.

In a letter sent to Layton Police Department and the media, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings wrote, "If officer Lynch had not acted quickly and decisively, we likely (would) have a larger tragedy on our hands. Brian Harris had already shot one person that day. Children were in the trailer Brian Harris was attempting to enter when fleeing from law enforcement."

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