Southern Pines under lawsuit after alleged false arrest

An Aberdeen man filed a lawsuit with demands for a jury trial Dec. 16 against the Town of Southern Pines and some of its police officers for his alleged false arrest.

The lawsuit stems from the 2018 arrest of Lee Marvin Harris Sr., and charges were later dismissed. Before the charges were dismissed, he spent five months in jail, was on a $5 million bond, and faced a minimum of three years in prison on the charge of cocaine trafficking.

The lawsuit was filed in Greensboro in the Middle District of North Carolina. Please click here to read the lawsuit.

Officers Jason Perry, Sean Lowery and Kyle Marsh are being sued in individual capacities. Former Chief Robert Temme is being sued in an individual and official capacity.

The Southern Pines Police Department has not yet responded to interview requests. Should they respond, this article will be updated.

On page two of the lawsuit, it reads, “The SPPD Officers knew Mr. Harris was innocent, yet fabricated evidence against him as retaliation for Mr. Harris’s prior complaints against Defendants, and in an attempt to coerce him to inform on his son’s alleged drug trafficking.”

On page six, claims of alleged 2018 police entrapment with a confidential informant are listed. The list ends with cocaine, packaged like the cocaine sold to his son, being found in Harris Sr.’s inoperable Cadillac in his Southern Pines’ front yard

On page four of the lawsuit, the incident leading to Harris Sr.’s filing a 2013 internal affairs complaint against Perry, is listed. The lawsuit reads that Harris Sr. was at a friend’s house, on the friend’s lawn, to witness a search warrant being executed when Perry ran from the porch and allegedly threatened Harris Sr.

In 2018, Harris Sr.’s son, Lee Marvin Harris Jr., 36, was charged with a total of 11 counts of trafficking cocaine, possession of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a school, driving while license revoked not impaired rev. based, possession of heroin, trafficking in opium or heroin, possession of firearm by a felon, maintaining a place for controlled substance, possession with intent to sell/deliver cocaine. 

Harris Jr. has Moore County drug convictions dating back to 2007.

Harris Jr. was taken to the Moore County Detention Center and placed under a $9,000,000 secured bond.

Read the 2018 arrest article of the father and son here.

On page one of the lawsuit, it reads that Harris Sr. has lived in Moore County since 1998, served in the armed forces, is a minister, and is a retired North Carolina Department of Public Safety Officer.

On page one, it also reads that Harris Sr. used his role as a minister to advocate for people facing criminal charges or investigations.

“I have spent 62 years doing everything I possibly could to serve my community and avoid breaking the law. I served for eight years in the United States Armed Forces and worked as a Corrections Officer for the State of North Carolina. I now serve Moore County as a Minister. Still, without any justification, my freedom and my life as I knew it was taken from me. I am now seeking justice for that wrong,” Harris Sr. said in a statement from his attorney, Abraham Robert-Schewel.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected]

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