SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The first firefighter arrested in the scandal at Fire Station #8 has pleaded not guilty to charges of cruelty to the infirm and principal to prostitution.
50-year-old Shreveport Fire Capt. Derrick Harris entered the not guilty plea in Caddo District Court on Wednesday morning.
According to court documents, the 23-year veteran of the Shreveport Fire Department is accused of playing a role in the hiring of a prostitute for a mentally disabled man who had become a fixture at the station as a "mascot" of sorts. Harris and 3 other firefighters are also accused of cruelty, based on allegations the firefighters subjected that man and another mentally disabled man who frequently hung around the station to cruel pranks and humiliation.
Following the court hearing Wednesday, Harris' attorney John Settle questioned the timing of the arrests of those accused in the case, as well as who has not been arrested. "I've been concerned from the beginning, that we're not just trying to find a scapegoat for this. Captain Harris was certainly the first one arrested, but one of the key players in this incident has not been arrested, and I think that is reflective upon this rush to judgment by city hall and by the DA's office."
Harris is due back in court October 2 for a preliminary hearing.
Firefighter Clint Richardson, 26, Fire Engineer Billy Glass, 37 and 34-year-old firefighter Jason Vaughan were all arrested on the same charges in the following days. All are facing the same charges and all remain free on $105,000 bond.
They are scheduled to make their first appearances in court on September 4.