THE STAFF OF THE SHERIFFS’ RELIEF ASSOCIATION IS SADDENED TO ANNOUNCE THE PASSING OF RETIRED SERGEANT TOMMY L. HARRIS. HE PASSED AWAY ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2023
TOMMY BEGAN HIS LAW ENFORCEMENT CAREER WITH THE LYNWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT IN 1973. HE BECAME PART OF THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT ON MAY 1, 1977, WHEN IT ABSORBED LYNWOOD PD. HE WORKED VARIOUS ASSIGNMENTS AND RETIRED FROM HOMICIDE ON MARCH 22, 2004. HE CONTINUED PART TIME WITH HOMICIDE FOR ANOTHER NINE YEARS.
SEE BELOW FOR A MORE DESCRIPTIVE DESCRIPTION OF WHO TOMMY HARRIS WAS.
TOMMY WAS A VETERAN AND SERVED IN THE AIR FORCE.
CONTACT SHERIFFS’ RELIEF FOR SERVICE AND CONDOLENCES INFORMATION
From Joe Purcell
As you have read, retired Homicide Sergeant Tommy Harris passed away on 09-02. I imagine many of you knew Tommy from the generous and tireless assistance he provided to our Baker to Vegas team and barbeque. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Bureau’s social events, one we could always rely upon to perform any task, no matter how big or small. But he was so much more than that.
Tommy began his law enforcement career with the Lynwood Police Department. When we assumed law enforcement duties from Lynwood P.D. on May 01, 1977, he had just over 3 years and 1 day of service, which was the threshold for Lynwood officers to remain in patrol instead of serving one year in custody. He elected to transfer to Lakewood where he worked patrol until he was honored to become one of the first group of detectives in OSS. Tommy’s last deputy assignment was as a D.I. at the Academy, from where he promoted to sergeant. Tommy worked as a patrol sergeant at Temple and them returned to OSS as a team sergeant. He transferred to and retired from Homicide, an assignment he was born to fulfil.
Tommy and Doral Riggs solved the murder for financial gain of the “original T.J. Hooker,” a retired LAPD sergeant who was murdered by his wife and step-son. This case would have gone down as an accidental fire if not for the tenacity and instincts of both investigators. You can read about this case and the TV show, if you don’t remember it, on the internet.
Tommy and Mike Scott solved and prosecuted the first “no body murder” in the history of our Homicide Bureau. Imagine if you will the amount of work it required to prove cessation of life in the era prior to all the computer data bases we now have. After sufficient time had passed to heal the pain of the court resolution, Tommy could laugh at the fact that his and Mike’s interview was just too good. You see, they obtained a confession from the killer, and he led them to the victim’s burial site. However, the victim was so completely decomposed the Coroner was unable to determine a cause of death and the suspect came up with a completely transparent lie that the victim died from an accident and in his (suspect’s) panic, he buried the body and began using the victim’s ID. That fabrication ended the first degree, special circumstance conviction that seemed so dead bang.
Tommy’s last case, with Larry Brandenburg, was the soul crushing murder of Brenda Sierra. Thank God they, with the outstanding assistance of Gus Carillo, solved it.
You may not remember, but up until 2008 when the rules were changed, deputies had to retire at age 60. Tommy was forced to leave in 2004. He was bitter and apoplectic. But as soon as the retirement system’s age ceiling was modified, he returned as a hire back in the Unsolved Unit. He did fine work and was a solid investigator. He truly loved both the job and the camaraderie of the Bureau.
Tommy was a man of many talents. He was an avid golfer and licensed pilot. He was also a devoted and competitive body builder who won many events. It was fun to see him drink only water and live on tuna when preparing for a competition. He would get ripped in a hurry. Tommy was a wonderful mentor and trainer for those who wanted an effective exercise regimen.
Tommy’s dad was a professional musician. He traveled with him on tours and was a superb musician himself. Tommy possessed a beautiful voice and could play guitar, keyboard, drums and horn. He fronted many bands, including “Manhunter,” which was comprised of deputies.
If you met Tommy, you knew him. If you knew Tommy, you liked him. He was one of a kind. He was friendly, kind and caring. I will miss him.
From Jamie Harriett (Tommy’s daughter):
In addition to what is written here, he was very involved in the police and fire Olympics for his entire career and was inducted into the California powerlifting hall of fame in 2005.