Controversial raffle for fired DeLand police officer held in private

Group planned to give away AR-15 assault rifle


DeLAND, Fla. – A fundraiser for fired DeLand police officer James Harris was held in private Sunday, despite posters advertising the event would be held at a public park under the Whitehair bridge.

About a dozen supporters of Harris showed up to the park for the raffle aimed at raising money for Harris' legal fees.

The police chief fired Harris after seeing dashcam video from the car in which Harris pursued Marlon Brown after an alleged seatbelt violation. The graphic video shows Harris' cruiser run over Brown, who later died.

A grand jury decided not to charge Harris criminally.

The raffle was for an AR-15 assault rifle, but participants didn't find out who won at the event. That's because a group claiming to run the raffle pulled up to the riverside park in a pontoon boat, but sped away soon after seeing Local 6's cameras.

Many of the Harris supporters were left disappointed and without a way to donate to Harris. They planned to purchase more raffle tickets or make direct donations.

"I can't donate a bunch because I'm retired, but I'll sure donate some to him," said Bill Batten. "You know it's about time that people start standing up for the police officers. It seems like they stand up for the criminals all the time."

Ray Hosterman doesn't think the chief should have fired Harris.

"I think he was trying to do the right thing. I think he was trying to apprehend the guy," said Hosterman.

The poster, which advertised the raffle, was posted at several DeLand businesses. It read Harris was "involved in an on-duty incident after the suspect came towards his vehicle, which resulted in the accidental collision, resulting in the tragic death."

Last week Krystal Brown, Marlon Brown's ex-wife, told Local 6 she thought the fundraiser was insensitive and misleading.

"He ran him down like a dog in the street, and that totally contradicts what he says and what he's asking for money for," Krystal said.