A former Omaha police officer was found guilty Friday of making terroristic threats by threatening a motorist who was following him.
Lance Harrison, 44, was accused of pointing a gun at Jonah Zook of Bellevue on U.S. Highway 75 at Capehart Road.
The jury found Harrison guilty of making terroristic threats. He was acquitted of a charge of using a firearm to commit a felony.
Deputy Sarpy County Attorney Matt Lierman told the four-man, eight-woman jury during closing arguments that Harrison “intended to terrorize Zook. He wanted a confrontation. He was looking for a fight.
“He was stressed. He was upset. He’s got problems,’’ Lierman said. “He intended to terrorize Jonah Zook.’’
Zook called 911 on May 24, 2010, to report a reckless driver and stayed on the line as he followed the driver.
Zook, 40, then told the 911 operator that the other driver stopped and got out of his vehicle, walked back to Zook’s vehicle, pulled a gun and demanded to know why Zook was following him.
The driver left before police arrived, but the 911 caller gave his license plate number to Bellevue police. Officers went to Harrison’s Bellevue home.
Harrison was fired after an internal investigation.
Prosecutor Jennifer Miralles told jurors that Harrison “was in a rage. He wanted to scare Jonah. He’s a tough guy. He wanted to be in charge. Fortunately, he didn’t blow Jonah’s head off. Fortunately, Jonah is still with us.
“When is pointing a gun in someone’s face not a threat?’’ she asked.
“The law applies to all of us, whether we’re a cop or not,’’Miralles added. “The law is there to protect us.’’
Harrison’s defense attorney, J. William Gallup, reminded the jury that his client had just finished a tough work shift and was rushing home to check on his family.
Gallup said Harrison never made a terroristic threat and never pointed his handgun at Zook, keeping the gun down.
Instead, Gallup said, Harrison identified himself as a police officer and warned Zook that he could get hurt following him through traffic.
“It wasn’t a threat. It was good advice,’’ he said.
Gallup said Harrison asked Zook: “Why are you following me? That’s a good way to get shot.’’
“Zook is not credible,’’ he said, adding that in 1 1/2 years, prosecutors have been unable to find anyone to corroborate Zook’s testimony.
Gallup said Harrison “couldn’t have been speeding and weaving because he stopped at three traffic lights. Why would he do that if he is a terrorist behind the wheel?”
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