The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found discrepancies between the Cobb County police account of the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, and a video that shows Ross Harris in the parking lot that day.
The AJC viewed the videotape — from a surveillance camera at the Home Depot complex where Ross Harris worked — as it evaluated evidence and testimony in the case. Some of the points made by Cobb police at a hearing two weeks ago are subject to interpretation, or are wrong.
For example, Cobb County Detective Phil Stoddard testified that Harris sat in his Hyundai Tucson for 30 seconds after parking it that morning, with his son just inches away, before heading into work. But the video shows Harris was in the car for less than 15 seconds, during which he put the vehicle in park, turned off the engine and gathered his smart phone, computer bag and drink before sliding out of the driver’s seat.
In addition, The AJC found that a thorough reading of the transcript of the July 3 probable cause hearing suggests that prosecutors may have created a false impression by claiming that Harris searched the internet for information about children and pets dying in hot cars.
For many people, that left the impression that Harris was on a quest to acquire that information. But Harris’ attorney said he only clicked on a couple of items that appeared on websites that millions of people visit every day for news and entertainment.
Harris is charged with felony murder and child cruelty in the second degree. Police have asserted that he intentionally killed his son, although the charges do not yet reflect that. That could change as the investigation continues.
Subscribers may read the full story on our premium website, MyAJC.com. The AJC is committed to a balanced presentation of facts in the Harris case. Also at MyAJC.com: an exclusive interview with Harris’ brother, a police officer in Alabama, word clouds of the closing arguments from the prosecution and defense at the probable cause hearing, and an interactive in which readers can click to key passages from the transcript of the hearing. These passages detail the dueling narratives emerging in the case.