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Phelps family files wrongful death suit against defendant, electronic monitoring company

Jordan Harris is charged with killing Walter Phelps.

Jordan Harris

Jordan Harris

— 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.”

Comments

TrixibelleBento 2 years, 5 months ago

Take Mr. Harris out back and get rid of him. He's never going to be a contributing member of society.

I guess that ankle monitoring doesn't happen like it did in the movie "Disturbia" where the Police immediately are summoned to the home of the person under house arrest when they leave the premises. That's not good at all.

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TD31707 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm with you on the solution, but bullets are too costly compared to the value of this sub-human. Should we use a blunt object or a sharp one?

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shredex3 2 years, 5 months ago

If we took everybody "out back" we would run out of bullets. Good suggestion, but unfortunately we will continue to have more and more suckers instead of earners.

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supersquawker 2 years, 5 months ago

I don't usually support "wrongful death" lawsuites because most of them are the result of some amublance chasing lawyer convincing a person that they can get some sue money. However, in this case I am 100% behind the Phelps family. It is disgraceful and incompetent that the monitoring company did NOTHING!

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree that the monitoring company should be held liable for Mr. Phelps death. They were asleep at the wheel. Their excuse was the way the Order was written. It isn't that hard to read an Order. Even the Judge told them they were wrong and violated the Order. I don't blame the Phelps family for suing. I think they have a very strong case.

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GASpectator 2 years, 5 months ago

The ultimate responsibility in this case lies with the Albany DA's office and their reliance on an "ankle bracelet" to monitor Harris for a year and a half. He had already committed an armed robbery in Albany in FEBRUARY 2009 and then was allowed out on a leg monitor by the Albany Judge while waiting on a trial. The Phelps' tragedy happened in JULY of 2010. ONE YEAR AND FIVE MONTHS LATER!!! What was the DA doing in this year and a half??? It doesn't take that long to prepare an armed robbery case I'm sure. If the DA had properly prosecuted this case instead of letting it get lost in his office, Harris would have NEVER been able to even enter the P&P establishment to do anything. I'm all in favor of electronic monitoring, but let's face it, it is NOT a sentence or a long term fix for anyone. And it doesn't STOP anything from happening or STOP anyone from doing exactly what they want to do. If the terms of a person's leg monitor are different in each case since they are set by the Court, how does anyone know what those terms are without carrying a copy of the Order around with them? As I understand it, electronic monitoring is a short-term, temporary solution to allow people to remain out while waiting on going to court. People like Harris should never be given this opportunity, especially if there is no reason for him to be out - no job or responsibility. Apparently, after the February 2009 armed robbery of Title Bucks in Albany, Harris was released and put on a leg monitor by an Albany judge, then he took his terror to Lee County (where was the leg monitoring?) and robbed a convenience store there, and was put on another leg monitor there (??), then he came back to Albany and is charged with this crime. How many times do we allow this to happen?? How many monitors can a person collect?? With his level of crimes, he should never have been let out of the courthouse after his bond hearing on the first crime in Albanhy in 2009. Do we just keep giving people electronic monitoring and then allow them out to commit other crimes? At some point, the effect of his leg monitor was NO effect - forgotten I'm sure. Harris was on it for so long that he probably forgot he even had one!!

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supersquawker 2 years, 5 months ago

This is why my policy from here on out is "shoot to kill". Protected by Smith & Wesson.

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GASpectator 2 years, 5 months ago

Exactly! You have to protect yourself by whatever means you can and at all costs.

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Sally_O 2 years, 5 months ago

Good luck getting any money from Harris, he wouldn't be able to pay a penny unless he was out in the streets robbing people. I fully support sueing the monitoring company, hopefully that will wake somebody up. The monitor bracelet means nothing if the ones doing the monitoring is not doing their job. In fact that person should be sued as well.

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