ALBANY ALBANY — The attorney for the family of former Lee County Commissioner Walter Phelps says he’s filed suit against the company that was supposed to be monitoring the electronic ankle monitor on Jordan Harris on the night he’s accused of shooting Phelps to death.
On Thursday afternoon, Joe Durham filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the State Court of Dougherty County naming Tifton-based Professional Court Services Inc., Bertha Daniel, Darrien Teals, Homer Day, John Doe, XYZ Entity and Harris as defendants.
On behalf of the Phelps family, Durham alleges that the company, which was supposed to have been monitoring Jordan Harris’ activities through an electronic ankle monitor he was ordered to wear while on house arrest and out on bond for different charges in Lee County, was “asleep at the wheel.” Durham alleges that their failure to report to law enforcement that Harris had left his home on July 3 allowed Harris to allegedly shoot and kill Phelps during a robbery attempt.
“This is a tragic event that could have and should have been prevented,” Durham said Thursday. “The court had a system in place for monitoring offenders that were out on bond or on house arrest, and but for the negligence of this company, Mr. Phelps’ death could have been avoided.”
In the suit, Durham contends that, between the time he was placed on house arrest and the night of the shooting, “Defendant Harris repeatedly left the premises of his residence in violation of the bond order of the Superior Court of Lee County.”
Phelps was shot July 3, 2010 during an attempted robbery of his hardware store at 2500 N. Slappey Blvd. in Albany. Phelps died on Aug. 7, 2010 as a result of his injuries.
“At the time he shot Mr. Phelps, Defendant Harris was wearing the (electronic monitoring device) placed on him by an employee ... of (Professional Court Services),” the suit states.
The suit is alleging that PCS violated the terms of its contract with the Lee County court and was negligent in not reporting that Harris had left his home repeatedly before and on July 3, 2010.
While it doesn’t specify an amount that the family is seeking, the suit states that they seek a jury trial, attorneys fees and both compensatory and punitive damages for medical bills, funeral costs and the “full life and value of Mr. Phelps.”