Ladell Harrison pleads not guilty to charges in death of MPD officer Charles Irvine Jr.

MILWAUKEE -- Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Ladell Harrison returned to a Milwaukee County Courtroom Friday afternoon, June 22. The 28-year-old is charged in connection with the death of Officer Charles Irvine Jr.

The courtroom was packed with family, friends and fellow police officers.

Harrison faces the following criminal charges:

    A court commissioner allowed Harrison to waive his preliminary hearing on Friday. Afterwards, Harrison pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection with the death of Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Irvine Jr.

    He walked out of the courtroom, shaking his head as he was led back to the Milwaukee County Jail.

    Ladell Harrison in court

    "Everyone understands the magnitude of the circumstances and the unfortunate tragedy that occurred," Harrison's attorney, Jonathan Smith said. "I don't think that is lost on anyone and it's certainly not lost on Mr. Harrison."

    Members of the Irvine family filed out of a room in silence, with detectives and other officers nearby for support.

    Ladell Harrison in court

    Prosecutors say Harrison wasn't alone during the pursuit that led to the deadly crash of the officers' squad car on Thursday, June 7.

    Investigators say Harrison is a heroin dealer that undercover officers had been tracking for some time after a Waukesha County woman overdosed in 2017. Police had been using criminal informants to build a case -- buying drugs through Harrison at least four times.

    Officer Irvine Jr., 23, died after the violent crash near 76th and Silver Spring on the city's northwest side on Thursday evening, June 7. Irvine and his partner, Officer Matthew Schulze, 36, were in pursuit of a reckless vehicle when their squad crashed. Irvine Jr. was a police aide for two years and an officer for nearly two more.

    Schulze, who was driving the squad at the time of the crash, was treated and released from Froedtert Hospital.

    Charles Irvine Jr., Matthew Schulze

    Harrison told police he fled because he was scared, had a gun in the car, and was driving on a revoked license. He also had his five-year-old son in the car.

    The complaint says Harrison was driving a black sedan on June 7.Officers Irvine Jr. and Schulze witnessed Harrison quickly change lanes at the end of the intersection at 91st and Silver Spring. The officers activated their lights and sirens to attempt to pull the car over. Squad car video shows the sedan fled "at a high rate of speed." It is estimated the sedan initially "reached speeds of 68.8 miles-per-hour." Within a minute of leaving the intersection, the complaint says the sedan obtained speeds of "84.8 miles-per-hour and was pulling away from the squad." Moments later, the sedan changed into "the bicycle lane and the squad which is pursuing it is now traveling at 91.2 miles-per-hour" as they were approaching W. Fond du Lac Avenue. The complaint indicates the sedan was "traveling at a higher rate of speed than the MPD squad."

    Milwaukee Police Department squad crash at 76th & Silver Spring

    Milwaukee Police Department squad crash at 76th & Silver Spring

    The complaint goes on to say the sedan was passing other vehicles at speeds in excess of 95 miles-per-hour. As it approached the bridge with N. 76th Street, the "Milwaukee squad car is traveling at 96.3 miles-per-hour" -- and the sedan is "pulling away, showing it is going at a faster rate of speed. The squad cam shows that as the squad car is approaching the bridge, the squad car loses control and crashes."

    Prosecutors say the squad carrying the officers may have flipped as many as 20 times. Officer Irvine was thrown from the vehicle and later died.

    The complaint says Harrison said he did not see when the police squad crashed as he was "so far ahead of the police that they were not in his rearview mirror."

    Harrison is due back in court on July 16.