SEATTLE - A Seattle man has been charged for stealing a Seattle Police officer's personal vehicle after she responded to a multi-vehicle crash on I-5.
Roger Lee Owens Jr. was charged Tuesday by the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office for felony hit-and-run, theft of a motor vehicle, and unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. According to court documents, Owens was driving a U-Haul van involved in a 3-car crash blocking the left lane of I-5 where SPD officer Lexi Harris stopped to help those involved in that crash when a fourth vehicle crashed into the collision, colliding with Officer Harris and killing her. Owen then stole Harris' personal vehicle and drove off.
His next court appearance is set for July 1. Owens bail is set at $250,000.
Owens was arrested for allegedly stealing an off-duty SPD officer's personal vehicle the night she was struck and killed by another motorist after responding to a collision on I-5.
The 49-year-old Seattle man as the suspect who stole officer Harris’ vehicle, WSP Captain Ron Mead announced in the press conference Thursday night at the WSP District Headquarters. Mead said Owens was arrested at a Bellevue hotel after he abandoned her vehicle in Georgetown earlier this week. He was taken in custody Thursday for investigation of felony hit-and-run, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen firearm and identity theft.
According to court documents, Owens has been previously charged for drugging and pimping a 14-year-old victim.
Mead announced that six additional people were also arrested in connection to the collision, but unrelated to the theft of Harris' vehicle.
The 38-year-old Seattle Police Department patrol officer was on her way home from shift early Sunday morning when she stopped to help with a multi-car crash on Interstate 5. She was struck and killed by another motorist. WSP was not able to positively identify Harris until several hours later when troopers found her wallet within the area of the collision.
According to WSP, around 11: 45 p.m. Sunday a multi-car crash was reported blocking the HOV lanes in the SB lanes of I-5 near the Spokane St. on-ramp in Seattle. About an hour and a half later, a 3-car collision was reported and a pedestrian was struck and killed. The pedestrian, later discovered to be Officer Harris, was killed in the second crash, which happened in a backup from the first crash.
The officer's personal vehicle was stolen from the scene. Detectives said the officer's vehicle was found abandoned on Sunday morning in Georgetown and is being held for evidence. The person who allegedly hit the officer remained at the scene.
Detectives are continuing their investigation of the collision. WSP is asking anyone who has additional information about the accident and the night Harris was killed to contact them at (425) 401-7742.
While Harris, a five-year veteran of SPD, was off-duty at the time, Q13 News is told that her death will likely be classified as "line of duty" due to the circumstances.
"It’s no surprise to hear that Lexi selflessly put the safety of others before her own, but it is tragic and heartbreaking to know that she lost her life doing just that," said Aly Mustain, a former SPD officer who left the agency last year.
Mustain said she looked up to Harris, who she called a "real life Wonder Woman."
"Lexi exemplified what it meant to be a well-respected, driven, self-motivated, hard-working, squared away human being. I was truly in awe of her motivation, dedication and ability to excel at damn near everything she did. As one of the very few female cops that I looked up to and aspired to be like, she naturally outperformed many of her male counterparts and was exactly who you’d want by your side and as your backup."
Harris, who received a department award in 2017 for her work helping people in crisis, was also passionate about helping her fellow officers.
According to The Seattle Times, Harris was involved in the department’s wellness unit and helped start a podcast that focused on bridging the divide between police and the communities they serve.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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