Probation for knife-wielding woman shot by police

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tania Harris was sentenced to three years on probation and 120 days in the Hennepin County workhouse for second-degree assault in which a police officer wound up shooting Harris, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Harris, 19, of Robbinsdale will have the felony crime reduced to a misdemeanor if she successfully completes her probation. Hennepin County District Court Judge Elizabeth Cutter also ordered a cognitive skills assessment for Harris with possible cognitive skills class, if necessary, “to help you come to more effective decision-making.” During the Tuesday morning hearing, the judge also ordered Harris to take an anger management class.

On April 16, a young woman who had been arguing with Harris for at least a day came to the apartment where Harris lived. Harris’ mother and the young woman were talking at the front door of the building and police had been called. Suddenly, Harris burst through the door and chased the young woman across the yard. Harris had a large kitchen knife in her right hand and screamed that she was going to kill the woman. When Harris refused to stop or drop the knife, a Robbinsdale police officer shot and wounded her.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office did not object to the pre-sentence investigation which recommended probation, with a 21-month prison sentence if she violates the terms of the probation. However, the prosecutor wanted her to spend 180 days in the workhouse.

Harris’ attorney, while admitting that she does not seem to understand the need for psychological and anger management treatment, nonetheless argued she should spend no time in the workhouse. He noted that Harris is in school to complete her high school credits, just began a part time job and is caring for her 14-month-old daughter.

Harris told Judge Cutter that she takes full responsibility for what she did and “I appreciate life much more since being shot.”

Judge Cutter told Harris that she believed she will be successful in not violating the conditions of her probation, but that “to impose no time would diminish the criminality” of her actions and so she would receive 120 days in the workhouse, but would be allowed to attend school and her job.

The sentencing was the first criminal case in which a television camera was present. Under a recent rule approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court, sentencing hearings may be recorded by still or video cameras provided a media outlet informs the judge and the lawyers 10 days prior to the hearing. A WCCO-TV cameraman filmed the proceedings from the jury box.