Trooper Michael "Piney" Harris
On October 9, 2009 at approximately 3:15pm, Trooper Michael R. K. Harris stopped a pick-up truck for speeding on Colorado Highway 6 near milepost 262. The vehicle stopped abruptly and the driver, Jonathan C. Parnell, quickly exited and attempted to use his cell phone. Trooper Harris informed Parnell why he stopped him, asking for his driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Trooper Harris also notified the driver of the lack of cell phone eservice in this particular area. Parnell avoided eye contact with Trooper Harris as he got back into his vehicle from the driver’s side, attempting to close the door behind him which Trooper Harris would not allow due to his behavior and dark tinted windows. Parnell quickly opened and closed his glove compartment and center console. While doing so Trooper Harris observed a half bottle of gin/vodka in the console. Immediately Parnell stated he didn’t have his license with him, yet Trooper Harris noticed a wallet next to his right leg, asking to see it. At this point Parnell started the vehicle attempting to put it in gear. Trooper Harris reached into the vehicle pinning the driver to the back of the seat despite Parnell’s attempts to push him away. Parnell then began driving away while Trooper Harris delivered multiple strikes to Parnell’s face, yet Parnell continued to drag Trooper Harris for a short distance before Piney was able to dislodge himself from the vehicle. As Parnell fled the scene he collided with another vehicle.
Trooper Harris was treated at the scene for a possible knee injury. As weeks and months passed, Trooper Harris continued to develop worsening pain in his right shoulder and arm, eventually undergoing two surgeries. After nearly one year of intense physical therapy, Trooper Harris returned to full duty on November 16, 2011. He has reached a maximum medical improvement (MMI) of 84%, and had he not gone through surgery he most certainly would have been permanently disabled.
It was determined that Parnell had two active nationwide extraditable warrants for his arrest. Parnell was eventually located and arrested on May 12, 2011 and charged with the following: Assaulting a Police Officer; 1st Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft; Resisting Arrest; Reckless Endangerment; Obstructing a Police Officer; Drove Vehicle While License Suspended; Failed to Give Information or Aid After Damaging a Motor Vehicle; Reckless Driving; Speeding; Engaged in Exhibition of Speed; Drove vehicle When Seatbelt Not in Use; License to be Exhibited on Demand; and Disobedience to a Police Office. Parnell was convicted of felony menacing with a real or simulated weapon on July 29, 2011, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Trooper Harris’ dedication to duty and his willingness to sacrifice his safety and well being in the performance of his duties on behalf of the people of the State of Colorado is commendable.