CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A man who was convicted in the fatal shooting of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Officer Eugene “Gene” Griffin is expected to be released on parole, according to the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.
According to CMPD and court documents, Officer Griffin was working off-duty but in uniform as security for a Red Roof Inn. Just after midnight on November 22, 1991, three 17-year-olds named Allen Lorenzo Gaines, Bryan Cornelius Harris, and Al Mustafa Coleman arrived in a car playing loud music at the hotel, causing a noise complaint.
Officials say that Officer Griffin went to investigate, finding the teens in a stairwell trying to visit a person staying at the hotel. Officer Griffin and Gains then got into a heated argument, during which Officer Griffen grabbed Gains and said, “You will listen to what I say, and you will leave the property.” The three were later ousted from the property.
According to court documents, Gains was aggravated that Officer Griffin had “yoked him up.” Going to a nearby residence, Gains grabbed a shotgun, saying he was going to kill the officer. During the conversation, Coleman repeatedly told Gains to leave “that Cop” alone.
Less than a half hour later, authorities say the three teens returned to the hotel lobby where Officer Griffin was sitting, and Gains shot Officer Griffin at point-blank range in the chest. Officer Griffin was seriously injured and later died at Carolina’s Medical Center.
Officer Griffin left behind his wife, Hilda, also a CMPD officer, and two children.
All three teens were indicted for murder on December 2, 1991.
According to the N.C. Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC), Allen Lorenzo Gaines was convicted of first-degree murder on October 6, 1993, and was sentenced to life in prison. He was recently transferred to Columbus Correctional Institution near Brunswick, N.C., under a medium-level custody classification.
Al Mustafa Coleman, according to NCDAC, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on October 6, 1993, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, Coleman was released on September 19, 1996, serving a little over two years and 11 months.
Lastly, Bryan Cornelius Harris was convicted of first-degree murder on October 6, 1993, and was sentenced to life in prison, according to NCDAC. Harris is currently housed at Anson Correctional Institution inside Polkton, N.C., town limits, and is under a minimum-level custody classification.
However, Harris has been granted parole and is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2023, after serving 30 years incarcerated, according to the N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission. Apart from two infractions in 1994, Harris has maintained a clean record while in prison; however, officials have not detailed what qualified Harris for parole.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg says Harris should not get parole, and they’re sympathetic to the fallen officer’s family.
“[Officer Griffin] missed out on many firsts because somebody who felt that they needed to do something because they felt disrespected, said Dan Redford, President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “To know that Mr. Harris, who’s getting out on parole, knew about this and failed to intervene and stop it from happening—he’s been in prison for 30-plus years—it’s still frustrating to know that given a life sentence, he’s going to get out of jail in the next few weeks.”
A spokesperson for the Parole Commission says once Harris gets out of prison, he’ll be under supervision for five years.