Why Wouldn't Harlem Harold Lewis Stop for Bellaire Officer Jimmie Norman?
By John Kays
The Houston Chronicle gives us a vivid narrative (practically in real time) of the disturbing, random events that led up to the tragic shooting death of Bellaire Police Officer Jimmy Norman and Maaco body shop owner Terry Taylor. However, some aspects of the narrative lack clarity, probably since witnesses couldn't see exactly what transpired over at the crashed black Honda (Harlem ran into a dumpster), where the suspect, Harlem Harold Lewis Jr. was positioned (in the driver's seat, naturally).
Alright, so we have to back up the tape and watch it once again. First of all, why wouldn't Harlem Lewis just stop once he saw officer Norman was pulling him over? Did he fear something else? We hear he'd been arrested last month for stealing three bracelets and three pairs of earrings? Did Harlem fear he'd get arrested again? He tries to get away from a cop, pulling him over the morning of Christmas Eve (around 8:55 AM)? Strange!
The Chronicle mentions it was a 'routine traffic stop;' but what type of violation was it? The police usually try to give citizens the benefit of the doubt on Christmas Eve, but this case appears to be about something else. Did Jimmy Norman see Harlem Lewis run a light? Was Lewis speeding? Did he run a stop sign? Or was his inspection sticker possibly expired? Did Jimmy run the tags and find an outstanding warrant? The provocation must have been serious, or else Norman would have let it go.
Yet, I still must ask, why was officer Jimmy Norman stopping this older black Honda Civic? Then, I must observe, Mr. Lewis was so utterly nervous, he sideswipes Selvin Romero's white F-150 truck, then draws him into the escalating drama, that gets progressively out of control in just a matter of minutes. We learn, also, that Chris Hokanson's Saturn was hit by Lewis. As for the actual shooting that occurred in Terry Taylor's Maaco body shop parking lot, I don't get it at all!
Several bystanders saw what happened, but only partially. Milton Navarette, Stephanie Pacheco, and Selvin Romero were eye-witnesses to the shootings, which went on for quite a while. Obviously, Lewis was unwilling to voluntarily exit his Honda, so Jimmy Norman must have been trying to force him out of the car. I mean, people saw a scuffle, the motion of hands, or what not. Then, somehow, Lewis produces this .380 caliber handgun, and starts shooting away. Where was the gun located? In the dash? Under the seat?
Was Harlem Harold Lewis Jr. the actual owner of the .380? Why was this young man driving around with a loaded gun? Not to accuse him of other crimes, but was he involved in other criminal enterprises? Why was Lewis so nervous? Why did he resist arrest with so strong a will? This is what's so odd about this case. He's going to shoot to death (in cold blood) a police officer and an innocent bystander; why did he do it? The Houston Police will be conducting the major investigation.
I have many questions I want answered and you probably feel the same way. Cpl. Jimmie Norman was a 24-year veteran with the Bellaire Police Department. I suspect his motive for wanting to stop Lewis was substantial. But what was it? And why was this young man carrying this powerful firearm around? I asked that question already, I know, but it troubles me still. Where'd he get the gun? Hopefully, further investigation will bring more focus on a tragic incident that's currently lacking focus.
John Kays identifies timeless remnants from our past that will endure, or be admired by future generations. Read more stories by John Kays.
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