A federal lawsuit has been filed against a North Carolina city, and its police force after a family claims their loved one was killed two years ago in a car crash caused by an officer driving over 90 mph.
The relatives and their lawyers claim the police department willfully undermined the justice system to protect the officer from prosecution.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-counsel Jason Burton announced the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit on Dec. 22 on behalf of the family of Christine Harris, a 57-year-old woman tragically killed in a crash on Sept. 22, 2020, after being hit by a speeding police car, according to WRAL News.
The complaint names North Carolina Special Police, North Carolina Special Police Officer Jonathan Fambro, the city of Fayetteville, the Fayetteville Police Department, and Officer Christopher Biggerstaff of the Fayetteville Police Department.
“We’re here announcing this lawsuit: She was tragically and unnecessarily killed by a police officer who was driving in excess of 90 miles an hour, breaking the law when he crashed into her car,” Crump said.
That evening, Fambro struck Harris’ car as she pulled into the parking lot of her church. Harris was ejected from her vehicle and died at the scene.
“Fambro was driving approximately 91 mph in a 50 mph speed limit zone when he collided with Harris, who was abiding by all traffic laws,” according to a news alert from Crump’s office. “Biggerstaff, while investigating the collision, set in motion a plan to ignore and conceal evidence to protect Fambro from prosecution once he learned he was a fellow law enforcement officer.”
According to the complaint, the city did not pursue criminal charges against Fambro, nor was a toxicology test or statement taken from the officer after the incident.
Burton said at the news conference that his office learned that Fambro gave his statement weeks after the crash when the officer said he was rushing to get dinner when he collided with Harris.
The family is hoping the lawsuit will bring some justice for their loss. The woman’s widower, Bill Harris, told reporters at the news conference it most likely will not bring closure to the pain he has been feeling over the last couple of years.
“I’ve been living with this for over two years now … trying to understand why this has happened,” he said.
“I go to bed at nighttime, and I look over, and I don’t see her there,” he said. “I walk through the house; I don’t hear her voice.”
Harris met Bill while attending Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, in November 1984. Bill was then a staff sergeant in the United States Air force. After falling madly in love with him, she decided to change her life’s trajectory and join the military, according to her obituary.
“Christine chose to leave college and decided to serve her country by joining the U.S. Air force in June 1985 and was stationed at Andrews Airforce Base in Maryland,” the obituary states. “On October 17, 1985, Christine was joined in holy matrimony to her lifelong sweetheart, William R. Harris, of 35 years.”
Harris leaves to mourn two daughters, Chanel and Cierra Harris, both from her union with her husband.