Detention officer fired, accused of sexually assaulting transgender inmate

CHARLOTTE — A Mecklenburg County Detention Center officer has been fired after being accused of sexual assault.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office announced on Monday that former detention officer Kyle Harris was fired after warrants were issued for his arrest. He had been with MCSO since August 2017.

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”All employees of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office are required to demonstrate professional and ethical conduct. There is no place in this organization for any employee that violates the public’s trust and confidence in MCSO,” Sheriff Garry L. McFadden said.

McFadden terminated Harris after he was charged with sexually assaulting a transgender inmate who identifies as female.

“It is very disturbing because I have many friends in the LGBTQIA community,” McFadden said.

On Tuesday, civil rights leader John Barnett of THUG Ministries and Rev. Corine Mack of the NAACP held a news conference to talk about the incident and expressed concern about the climate that the transgender community faces, with two murders in April and now this.

“I’m not going to say it’s open season. What I am going to say is there has been a pattern of violence against transgender, specifically transgender women, and we need to be in front of the problem not behind the problem,” Mack said.

Investigators said that the inmate was assaulted on May 20. She was in jail at the time for federal mail theft, wire fraud and identity theft charges.

Channel 9 was told that she was going to speak during the news conference but was arrested on charges from Iredell County on Tuesday morning.

“And yet Iredell County, how sick of you to lock her up,” Barnett said.

Barnett read an email from the victim describing her situation.

“All I asked for was respect, the same respect I gave the officers. I’m reaching out to jails and detention and inspection units and taking the necessary steps to insure that this does not happen to me or any other transgender,” the email read.

The sheriff said that Harris cleared the screening process when he was hired, but nothing is foolproof.

“We can change policies, We can change procedures, but we can never change a person’s heart,” McFadden said.

The leaders have proposed that the sheriff make some changes, one of which would separate inmates by categories -- male, female and transgender -- to better protect them.

Harris was placed on paid administrative leave last month pending a criminal misconduct investigation by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The sheriff’s office said its internal investigation by the MCSO Office of Professional Compliance into the incident was halted so that it did not impede or comprise the criminal investigation which has resulted in criminal charges against Harris.

No other information has been released.

Return to this story for updates.

(Watch Below: Meck County sheriff, CMPD chief address questions on police reform during virtual town hall)