A former bodyguard for champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. pleaded guilty to charges that he shot at two men in August 2009 outside a roller skating rink on Boulder Highway.
Ocie Harris, 29, of Chicago said he was guilty via an Alford plea Friday morning of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of firing a weapon into a vehicle. An Alford plea means Harris did not have to admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors could prove their case against him.
Authorities said on the night of Aug. 23, 2009, Harris shot at a BMW carrying Quincey Williams and Damein Bland as the car left the Crystal Palace parking lot. The car was hit six times.
The victims alleged the shooting occurred after Mayweather threatened Williams’ life over insulting text messages. No one was injured, and Mayweather was never charged.
Harris was to stand trial on six felony counts beginning Monday. Prosecutors agreed to drop three counts as part of the deal reached Friday.
A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 28 before Judge Doug Herndon. Harris faces probation or one to six years in prison. He remained free on $140,000 bond.
Harris declined to comment after the hearing. His lawyer, Tom Pitaro, would only say that he plans on seeking probation for Harris at the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutor Sam Bateman objected to Harris pleading guilty via Alford, but Herndon allowed the defendant to enter the specialized plea. Harris would have had to describe the circumstances of the incident if he had pleaded guilty.
Afterward, Bateman said that at the sentencing hearing he plans on pointing out Harris’ relationship with Mayweather.
“The facts are plain that Mr. Harris and Mr. Mayweather are associates, friends in some respect. They know each other, and they were there together that night,” Bateman said.
When asked whether Harris was acting on Mayweather’s behalf the night of the shooting, Bateman said, “It doesn’t appear to me to be any other motive in the case.”
Transcripts of grand jury testimony show that one witness in the parking lot of the skating center overheard Harris and another man speaking with Mayweather before the shooting.
Harris and the other man told the boxer to leave and “we’re going to take care of it,” the transcripts show.
The shooting happened moments later.
Bateman said there was not enough evidence to charge Mayweather.
Meanwhile, Williams, one of the victims of the shooting, told the Review-Journal Friday, “I continue to have faith in the justice system and hope the sentence sends a message that inappropriate actions will be dealt with appropriately by the law.”
Williams, who has publicly said he believes Mayweather told Harris to shoot at him, and Bland are suing the boxer and his associate.
Mayweather faces several other lawsuits pending in civil court over allegations his bodyguards assaulted people at casinos and nightclubs in Las Vegas.
Recently, Mayweather has embarked on a good-will campaign after his guilty plea for a domestic violence incident involving his children and their mother.
He has donated more than $100,000 to charities, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation in January.
In December, the boxer pleaded guilty to battery-domestic violence and no contest to two counts of harassment.
Josie Harris – no relation to Ocie Harris – filed a criminal complaint against Mayweather after the Sept. 9, 2010, incident. She said the boxer hit and kicked her because she was dating another man. Harris also accused Mayweather of threatening their children by saying he would “beat their asses if they left the house or called the police” during the incident.
Mayweather has denied kicking or punching Josie Harris and said he pleaded guilty to put “all these negative things” behind him.
As part of his sentence in the case, Mayweather must spend 90 days in the county jail, though he doesn’t have to report until June.
He at first was ordered to serve the sentence beginning in January, but a Las Vegas judge delayed the date Mayweather could fight Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.