Troubled past, complicated legal system surround suspect who killed Independence officer

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Beyond the pain and loss the Independence community is feeling there is also confusion. It’s still not clear why 33-year-old Cody Harrison shot Independence Police Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans but also why was he was out of jail and in possession of a gun?

The last 10 years of Harrison’s life were spent either in jail or in the court system. It’s leaving many wondering why he was out of jail to begin with.

Former Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Plumb said there are a few reasons.

Harrison’s life ended in a violent confrontation. The Missouri Highway Patrol said he killed Madrid-Evans when he entered a home where Harrison was hiding inside.

“When you knock on that door you just don’t know what’s on the other side of that door,” Sgt. Andy Bell said after the incident.

An image from Harrison’s Facebook page gives insight to what the young officer may have seen. Tattoos on Harrison’s body reference a prison gang and say “if you ain’t blastin’, you ain’t lastin’.”

The legal web surrounding the 33-year-old felon has many wondering how it got to this point.

“It’s kind of like the emergency room in a hospital,” Plumb said. “You may have a day, a Saturday where you get 50 cases that come in in about eight hours. The same thing can happen at a prosecutor’s office. Then it’s a matter of prioritizing and generally what goes to the top are murder cases.”

For more than 30 years Plumb has been teaching criminal justice at Park University.

“With jails full, and with the pressures of COVID – judges are really in a hard spot in terms of who they let out, who they keep in,” Plumb said.

Harrison was released from jail after seven years in 2018 for shooting a gun from a car. That’s when he apparently tried to turn his life around. In 2018 he went to work at a moving company. His former employer tells FOX4, Harrison lied about his criminal history to get the job, but was a good employee. For a while he was their best. However, his behavior changed, and after two years he was fired.

Then his former boss said he came back in late 2020, broke in, and stole more than a thousand dollars in cash, and equipment from their office.

“The progression from the non-violent crimes, which includes possessing a firearm, to murder is a huge leap. That’s not something you’d see a lot. Usually there would be more steps where there would be a violent event,” Plumb said.

However, it seems Harrison was the exception. He was charged with burglary and theft in the case. Jackson County judge Twila Rigby released him at the end of August on his own recognizance, but days later he was back in jail.

He was arrested by Kansas City police on Sept. 2 when a police officer was talking to him, and a gun fell out of his waistband. He was arrested for being a felon in possession of a gun.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker said they didn’t receive the case from KCPD until Sept. 9. He allegedly did not show up for court in his burglary case on Sept. 13, and days later officer Madrid-Evans came face to face with Harrison and was gunned down.

Yesterday was a tragic and violent act committed by Cody Harrison. We along with our community wish that he had not made this heinous choice.  This loss is felt throughout our entire community as there is one less hero who will be serving and protecting the City Of Independence. Our thoughts and condolences continue to be with the family of Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans, the Independence Police Department and with the entire community.

Kansas City, Missouri Police Department

While there was a warrant for Harrison’s arrest before he was killed, the Missouri Highway Patrol said Independence Police were called out to the home on an anonymous tip that someone inside was wanted for a shooting. However, the person did not specifically tell dispatch the person was Cody Harrison and there was more than one person in the house. Unfortunately, when police arrived there was another shooting taking the life of an officer who barely started on the force.

Harrison could have faced impending charges for being in possession of a weapon in his September 2 arrest, but those charges were never filed.

Peters Baker tweeted a response to the loss of Madrid-Evans, but Independence Police were responding to a call, and not serving a warrant at the time of the shooting.

An officer tragically lost his life trying to serve a warrant. Harrison was wanted for a parole violation stemming from a Clay Co case. We believe that parole violation was in part due to a JaCo Burglary 2nd charge. Our hearts are heavy. And we grieve with our community.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker

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