MADISON — A Mississippi state trooper who was killed on duty last week was determined from childhood to become a law enforcement officer when he grew up, his father said Tuesday during the trooper’s funeral.
John Martin Harris, 44, was struck and killed by a vehicle Friday during a traffic stop in Madison County. His death remains under investigation, and nobody had been arrested by Tuesday. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from Mississippi and other states joined other mourners for the funeral at Broadmoor Baptist Church in the Jackson suburb of Madison.
Jimmy Harris of Clarksdale said his son knew his purpose early in life.
“I am so proud that my son was a trooper,” he said. “Y’all are an elite group of individuals that possess character, integrity — all the qualities that you would want your son or daughter to have.”
Gov. Tate Reeves said one of Harris’ friends described the late trooper as a “modern-day Wyatt Earp.”
“I could never in a million years come up with words adequate enough to properly put into perspective how much John meant to so many,” Reeves said during the funeral. “But honestly, words really are not even necessary today. All you must do is look around this church and it becomes obvious how much John’s life meant.
“Mississippi is a better place because of Trooper John Harris,” Reeves said. “And likely more importantly to John, Mississippi is a safer place because of Trooper John Harris.”
Harris’ survivors include a wife and two children.
Harris was a Clarksdale native. He started his law enforcement career in 1997 in Webb. He was awarded his first purple heart in 2002 during his time as a Friars Point police officer and his second one in 2004 while working for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.
Harris also served as a Richland police officer before graduating from trooper school in 2018 and joining the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Jimmy Harris, who owns an electronics store in Clarksdale, said the son he called “John Martin” worked for a while as a police officer in that city.
“He wrote so many tickets in Clarksdale, I said, ‘Son, you’re going to put me out of business,’” Jimmy Harris said, prompting laughter from people at the funeral. “Everybody came to my store, they were having a fit: ‘Man, your son gave me an $85 ticket.’ I said, ‘Well, what were you doing?’ ‘I was doing 65 in a 30.’ I said, ‘Well, you should have got a ticket.’”
Col. Randy Ginn is director of the Highway Patrol and assistant commissioner of public safety. He said people who knew Harris through his law enforcement career described him as determined, driven and dedicated.
“He was determined to do it right,” Ginn said. “And he wasn’t going to quit. He wanted to be a part of the solution to what’s going on in society.”