Officer hurt after accused drunk driver slams into CMPD cruiser on I-85

Officer hurt after drunken driver slams into CMPD cruiser blocking I-85

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — An officer was hurt after a drunken driver slammed into the back of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department cruiser on Interstate 85 early Sunday morning, investigators said.

Police said Officer Justin Harris was blocking traffic for a crash on I-85 southbound near Glenwood Drive when a car traveling at 65 mph barreled into him. Authorities said all of the police cruiser's lights were on when it was hit.

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"Our blue lights, you can see them from a mile away at night. There's no reason for this accident to happen," said CMPD Capt. J.D. Thomas.

The driver, William Dawson, has been charged with driving while impaired, but officials said he potentially could face other severe consequences for hitting an officer.


Other drivers said Dawson's Subaru never slowed down as they watched it slam into the SUV, knocking Harris unconscious.

"He was sitting in the car. Thank God he had his seat belt on," said Thomas.

Harris suffered a concussion, but officials said he is OK and recovering. They said they're hoping he can come back to work soon.

"We actually didn't know our officer was hurt for the first few minutes, but people were calling 911, saying there's an officer injured out there," Thomas said.

Investigators said they believe that by being hit, Harris may have protected first responders and other innocent drivers at the scene.