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Andrew Harper – They had to make a special law because of him

Learn about Andrew Harper and the circumstances surrounding his demise.

On July 18, 2019, 28-year-old Andrew Harper scrawled a little note inside of a card, and then he folded the card up. He slipped it into its envelope and handed that envelope off to a nearby friend. After getting this envelope and Andrew’s directions for what to do with it, he left Andrew’s room and began walking down the hall all the way towards the other side of the Artington House.

Andrew Harper
Andrew Harper

The Artington House, where they were staying, is this beautiful mansion built in the 1700s that sits on about 30 acres of gardens and parklands. It’s located about an hour west of London in the English countryside.

Once Andrew’s friend with this letter in hand had walked all the way across the mansion and had found the room he was looking for, he gently knocked on the door. After being led inside, he made his way right over to 28-year-old Lissie Beckett and handed her the envelope.

Andrew Harper & Lissie Beckett
Andrew Harper & Lissie Beckett

Lissie and Andrew had grown up in the same town of Wallingford, which is a small rural town about 10 miles away from where they were at the Artington House. From the time Lissie and Andrew had met each other when they were 15 years old, they had become totally inseparable. It was truly love at first sight, and now, 13 years later, they were finally getting married.

So Lissie, after getting this envelope, saw the writing on the outside of it and knew it was from her fianc√©. She smiled, opened up this letter, and read what’s inside. It just said, “Life is slippery here. Take my hand.” While on the surface, this little note seemed like nothing more than a romantic gesture from Andrew. In reality, those seven words contained in that card were a great representation of who Andrew really was.

Andrew & Lissie At 16 Years Old
Andrew & Lissie At 16 Years Old

He was a protector. Ever since Lissie could remember, Andrew had always been so concerned with her safety and, for that matter, anybody around Andrew. Andrew was just worried about and wanted to make sure everybody was taken care of.

As Andrew Harper got older and grew to be this massive six-foot-five-inch tall man, his natural inclination to protect other people only became more pronounced. While Andrew was known for being incredibly charming, friendly, and approachable, at a moment’s notice, he could flip the switch and literally step in and use his big frame to protect anybody that needed protecting, no questions asked.

So, it came as no shock to Lissie or really anybody who knew Andrew when Andrew, at the age of 19, became a special constable or volunteer police officer for the Thames Valley Police Department.

Andrew Harper at work
Andrew Harper at work

This police department was the same one that oversaw Wallingford where he and Lissie had grown up, and also the surrounding areas. Just a year after becoming a special constable, Andrew had done such an amazing job that he was hired on by the Thames Valley Police Department to be a regular constable. So, a full-fledged police officer.

Over the following years that he was a regular constable, Andrew’s hard work and dedication would quickly make him one of the most well-respected and well-liked police officers on the force. In fact, just a few weeks before he sent off that letter to Lissie on the day of their wedding, Andrew Harper had been promoted. He had been assigned to the Road Policing Unit within the Thames Valley Police Department.

Lissie reading the letter
Lissie reading the letter

What that meant was, in addition to a host of new responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, Andrew would now become one of the police officers who would immediately respond to any emergency call that came in. He was basically a front-lines police officer now.

So, of course, this meant Andrew’s job just became a lot more dangerous. But for Andrew, that didn’t matter at all because, to him, the most important thing was protecting people in need. So, this promotion just gave him a bigger opportunity to do that. After reading this little note that Andrew had just sent her, Lissie set it down on the table.

Now, with a big grin on her face, she finished getting ready, and then that afternoon, she and Andrew would walk down the aisle and say, “I do,” in front of their families and their closest friends. And then, that evening, after the newlyweds had had their first dance as a married couple, they would tell each other that this was the happiest day of their lives.

Andrew Harper & Lissie Beckett when they were younger
Andrew Harper & Lissie Beckett when they were younger

28 days later, on August 15th, Andrew Harper, along with his partner, who also was named Andrew, his name was Andrew Shaw, they were conducting a surveillance operation in a town called Reading. Reading is a town about 30 minutes south of Wallingford.

Just after 11 p.m., the men finally decided it was time to shut down their operation and head back home. Their shift had actually ended four hours earlier, but being hard-working and diligent police officers, they had worked overtime because they knew it would help their unit. But now, at 11 p.m., they were totally exhausted.

Andrew Harper & a co-worker
Andrew Harper & a co-worker

As they’re kind of yawning and packing up their things, Shaw, who was driving, would fire up the engine of the unmarked BMW car they were in. Once it was on, he would pull away from the curb, and they would start heading north.

At the same time, a very distressed man who lived not far from where Andrew and Shaw had just been doing surveillance called 999. He told the dispatcher that just a few moments ago, this gray sedan had pulled up his driveway and stopped right outside of his property.

Now, this man’s property was off of a road called Admoor Lane, which was this winding one-lane country road that had very little traffic, and there were not that many properties off of it. So, for anybody to pull onto this man’s property would have caught his attention, let alone a car pulling onto his property in the middle of the night.

As soon as the man had seen these headlights coming up his driveway, he had gone to the window and watched, wondering what is this person doing? Had they turned onto the wrong property? Are they going to turn around and leave? But to his horror, once this car had stopped right outside of his house, three masked men who were carrying weapons of some kind got out of the vehicle.

The 999 Caller's Quad Bike
The 999 Caller’s Quad Bike

At that point, the man had frantically dialed 999, and as he’s trying to describe the situation to the dispatcher, he suddenly tells the dispatcher, as he’s looking out the window, that he thinks these men are here to steal his quad bike.

His quad bike was parked right outside of his detached garage, and he saw them walking towards it. So, he tells the dispatcher, who’s already told him that police are on the way, he tells the dispatcher, “I can’t wait any longer. I’m going out to confront them and stop them from stealing my bike.” The dispatcher yells at him not to and says they have weapons, stay in your house. But this guy’s not listening.

So, he runs to his front door, opens the front door up, but by the time he’s looking outside, the gray car, the three masked men, they’re all gone, and so is his quad bike. He goes back in the house, talking to the dispatcher, and the dispatcher says, “Look, just stay at your house. The police are on the way. They will intercept that car. They’ll get your quad bike back.”

So, seconds later, a call went out over the radio to Thames Valley Police to go and intercept this gray car on Admoor Lane. So, whoever was closest, go over there. But be advised, the occupants of this car are three masked men that are armed and dangerous.

Admoor Lane
Admoor Lane

Now, Andrew and Shaw, when they heard this call, they would have known that they were not the only officers that could have taken this call, and they also would have known that they’ve been off the clock now for like four and a half hours.

There was no expectation that they would continue to work and go take this call, but they didn’t care at all. When that call came across, the only thing they thought about was, do your job. So, Shaw, he whips the car around and speeds towards Admoor Lane. He pulls off of the main road called the A4, gets onto Admoor Lane, and starts driving north.

Now, as soon as they turned onto that road, their vehicle effectively blocked the way for anybody coming the other direction. At this point, they’re expecting this gray car full of these masked men to be coming in their direction, and they are now blocking the way.

So, Andrew and Shaw, as soon as they get on that road, they know a close-quarters confrontation is almost guaranteed. But when you listen to the dashcam footage from the front of their vehicle that picked up the voices of Andrew and Shaw as they turned onto this road, there is no nerves, there’s no fear, there’s no hesitation. They are calm as can be. This is what they have trained for. They were ready.

So, Shaw, he’s making his way up this winding road. It’s totally pitch black, the trees are practically on top of the road. It’s like a tunnel of trees. They’re driving along this road, and then all of a sudden, up in the distance, you can see on the dashcam footage, you see headlights bombing toward them.

Real dash cam video police on admoor lane
Real dash cam video police on admoor lane

They’re way off in the distance, and then all of a sudden, that car, these headlights, they come flooring out right in front of them. Both cars come to a screeching stop, and you can hear the screeching of the brakes on the dashcam footage.

So, this car in front of them comes to a full stop, and Shaw, he stops, but then he moves up just a little bit closer before fully stopping the car.

Now, the two cars are only maybe 10 or 15 feet apart at this point. It’s important to understand that the vehicle that Shaw and Andrew Harper were in was an unmarked car, and they had intentionally not put on their blue lights as they’re cruising up this road because they didn’t want the suspects to see the blue lights in the distance and turn around and get away.

So, now they’ve come face to face, and Andrew and Shaw, they’re looking at this vehicle, and they can see that one, it’s a gray sedan, so it matches the description of the car they’re looking for, and two, behind this gray sedan is what looks like a quad bike that they are towing.

So, they know this is the car they were looking for, it’s on Admoor Lane, this has got to be it. Shaw, he flips on the blue lights, and Andrew, who’s in the passenger seat, he opens the door and begins yelling at the occupants to stay where they are. But they don’t listen because now the masked men in the gray car, they know they’ve been caught, there’s police right in front of them.

So, suddenly, one of the masked men in the back seat of this car, he leaps out of the vehicle and runs around to the back of the gray car and unhooks the quad bike. Then, the gray car, without even waiting for this third masked man to get back inside, it just begins driving forward on the left side of Shaw and Andrew, basically trying to drive around them despite the fact there’s nowhere to drive.

It’s a ditch on either side of the road. But obviously, these guys are desperate and willing to do anything to get away. So, this gray car has driven down into this ditch before Andrew and Shaw could do anything, and then the third masked man, who’s realizing he’s being left behind, he starts running around the right side of the police car, so he’s trying to go around the other way.

Amazingly, as soon as the third masked man made it around to the back of the police car, the gray car somehow managed to pop out of the ditch and got back onto the road. It starts driving away from Shaw and Andrew, and as they’re driving away, the third masked man is just on the road running after them.

So, Andrew Harper seeing an opportunity to potentially grab this third masked man that was out on foot, he jumps out of the police car, turns, and starts running down the road after the suspects.

Shaw, he doesn’t have enough space on this road to turn around and drive after them. So, all he could do was put the car into reverse and then look over his shoulder and start driving in reverse after them.

As Shaw is driving backward down this road, he can see out of his rear window Andrew, who is chasing the third masked man who is chasing the gray car. He can see all this happening out his back window, and then something totally strange that justified logic happened.

The third masked man suddenly leaps, as if he’s trying to jump into the moving car. At the same time, Andrew, who’s closed the distance on him, kind of lunges for the third masked man. Then, just as suddenly as these two maneuvers have happened, both men just vanish, and then the gray car just drives away and disappears. Shaw, he’s watching this happening and has no idea what he’s just witnessed.

He’s thinking, “Where did Andrew go? Where’d the third masked man go? What’s happened?” But he still can only drive in reverse, and so he’s just driving and driving, and then finally, he reaches a point in the road that’s just wide enough that he’s able to turn the car around.

As he’s doing that, you hear over dispatch that someone is asking Shaw, “What’s going on? Where are you?” All Shaw is able to say is, “My partner Andrew Harper has gotten out of the vehicle, and I lost him. I don’t know where he is.” After Shaw has turned the vehicle around, he begins driving now facing the proper direction.

As he’s driving down this creepy dark road, you don’t see anything, it’s eerily quiet, Andrew’s nowhere to be found, the car is nowhere to be found, the third masked man, there’s no one.

Shaw is just driving down the road, hoping that as he makes one turn or the next, he’s gonna see his partner just kind of running on the road somewhere, but he doesn’t. But as he’s driving along, what Shaw didn’t realize was that there were things in the road that belonged to Andrew.

They were kind of small, so he didn’t see them, but the footage would later reveal that it was almost like there was this trail of Andrew’s things kind of littered all over the road. There was his wallet, then there was his badge and there was his license and other ID cards, and then there was this glove and then there was this piece of plastic that looked like it belonged on Andrew’s vest.

A little farther down the road, because Shaw is still driving and scanning for his partner and scanning for anything, there’s just nothing. As he’s driving along, he would in real-time notice something of Andrew’s, and it was Andrew’s stab vest that he wore over his chest.

So, he stops the vehicle, gets out, and again, he’s on this totally pitch-black road where it’s weirdly quiet, and he’s walking up, and he grabs the vest, comes back into his vehicle, and puts it down inside of his car.

At this point, over the radio, people are asking Shaw, “What’s going on? Where are you?” You hear in Shaw’s voice a bit of panic as he’s like, “I’ve found Andrew’s stab vest. It was on the side of the road,” and he can’t make sense of that. He has no idea why it’s there, and dispatch, they don’t know what to make of that. Shaw just continued driving down this road, thinking to himself, “What’s happening here?”

Meanwhile, less than a mile away, at the end of Admoor Lane, where it joined up with A4, which is where Andrew and Shaw had originally come in, two other Thames Valley Police cars had arrived at that intersection. They had gone there specifically to try to intercept this gray car as they fled.

The Intersection; A4 Runs SW to NE, Admoor Lane Runs NW to SE
The Intersection; A4 Runs SW to NE, Admoor Lane Runs NW to SE

They’re sitting at this intersection, looking up Admoor Lane, and they see headlights bombing towards them. It’s the gray car, and the gray car comes speeding out onto A4. It makes a hard turn and speeds away from these two police cars.

One of these two police cars that were waiting out on A4, one of them takes off following the gray car, but the other police car, they stay right there because unbelievably, they had just spotted Andrew Harper. It would turn out when Shaw first put the BMW into reverse and began going in reverse towards his partner who was chasing the third masked man who was chasing the gray car.

When he was doing that and he was watching on his back window, he saw the third masked man jump and then disappear, and then Andrew disappeared. That was not a figment of his imagination. That really happened. The third masked man had attempted to jump into the moving vehicle, and he had been successful.

As for Andrew Harper, why he suddenly vanished, the reason for that is truly horrific. The three masked men were 18-year-old Henry Long and 17-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole. All three of them, prior to this night, had fairly extensive criminal records and proudly referred to themselves as career thieves, which basically just meant they spent all day and all night stealing from people.

Henry Long - Albert Bowers - Jessie Cole
Henry Long – Albert Bowers – Jessie Cole

That night, they had gone out with the intention of stealing that man’s quad bike. It’s unclear how they knew he had a quad bike, but they definitely showed up prepared because they knew they would have to get onto his property and very quickly tow that bike out of there before the homeowner could stop them.

So, they had attached this long, very thick rope to the back of their gray car. It was basically like this big loop of rope, almost like a lasso. When they pulled up onto that man’s property, they backed up to the quad bike and looped that stretch of rope over the handlebars of this quad bike.

A Re-Creation OF the Teen's Car
A Re-Creation OF the Teen’s Car

All three of them piled back into the gray car and sped off with the quad bike in tow. When they were on Admoor Lane and came face to face with Andrew and Shaw and realized those are police officers and were caught, the third masked man, aka Jessie Cole, he hopped out of the gray car, ran around to the back, and unhooked the loop of rope from this quad bike, ditching the quad bike by the side of the road so that it would be easier for the gray car to make their getaway.

Once it was free, the gray car kind of took off without Jessie Cole, and Jessie ran around the cop car, but Jessie would get back up to the side of the gray car, and he would leap into the window. As soon as he was inside and Henry, who was driving, knew he was inside, they’re all good.

Henry hit the gas. Who was standing with both feet inside of that loop of rope dangling off the back of the gray car when the gray car suddenly accelerated? Andrew Harper. Andrew was swept off of his feet as the rope grabbed onto his legs, so his head came back and smashed into the ground, and then he was dragged for 91 seconds at an average speed of 42.5 miles per hour down Admoor Lane.

It was only after he had been dragged for over a mile, whipping violently side to side, smashing not only into the ground but into trees and fence posts and shrubs, just getting destroyed on this road that finally, when they pulled off of Admoor Lane and got onto A4, that turn swung Andrew around, and he smashed into a curb that dislodged him from the rope and sent him careening into traffic.

Jessie, the third masked man, still in the car, saw Andrew go flying and landing in the road. So, as they’re speeding away, he pulls out his phone, records a video, and then throws his phone out the window into a field, hoping to avoid the police finding it.

By the time the police arrived at the intersection where Andrew had landed, they found him in the middle of the road with his shoes just kind of barely clinging onto his feet, and his body had been so badly mutilated from the dragging that the medical examiner, when they conducted the autopsy, could not find a single part of his body that had not been injured.

It was so bad that when Andrew’s colleagues and family arrived at the scene, they couldn’t even identify him. They needed dental records to confirm that it was him.

For the Thames Valley Police Department, the loss of Andrew Harper was devastating. As mentioned before, he was so well-respected and well-liked, not just by the community but by his colleagues. One of the officers that responded to the scene that night was so affected by what he saw that he had to take a year off from work and still had not returned.

Another officer who had come to know Andrew Harper really well over the years, when he was notified about Andrew’s death, he literally fell to the ground and was not able to get up for several minutes. Andrew’s family was crushed. His wife Lissie, now a widow after only 28 days of marriage, had to bury her husband. At the funeral, Andrew’s brother Sean gave a eulogy that was so difficult for him to deliver that he had to take several breaks just to try to get through it.

But as painful as it was, the one thing that was helping them get through this nightmare was the fact that the three men who had taken Andrew from them were immediately arrested and charged with murder. They were set to go on trial, and everybody assumed it would be an open and shut case.

There was dashcam footage, body cam footage, the suspects even had recorded a video of themselves fleeing from the scene. All of this evidence, including what was recorded on the suspect’s own phones, was just this irrefutable evidence that showed exactly what had happened that night. It was a horrendous tragedy that could not be denied, and these three men, if convicted, would likely spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Mug Shots of Jessie Cole, Henry Long, Albert Bowers
Mug Shots of Jessie Cole, Henry Long, Albert Bowers

But as the court case began, it became clear that the defense was going to argue that the suspects had no idea that Andrew Harper was attached to the back of the car, and therefore, it was just a tragic accident. Even though the prosecution could prove definitively that these three men had intentionally gone out that night to steal a quad bike and had intentionally tried to flee from the police, the defense was arguing that the specific thing that killed Andrew, him getting caught up in this loop of rope, was not intentional and therefore should not be murder.

What was most troubling for Andrew’s family and colleagues was that the judge presiding over the case appeared to be buying this argument. The trial was set to last for a month, but after only a few days of presenting evidence, the judge suddenly stopped the trial and told the jury to find the three suspects not guilty of murder.

The judge said he did not believe that the suspects knew that Andrew Harper was attached to the back of their car, and therefore, they could not be held responsible for his death.

In response to this shocking decision, there was an immediate public outcry, and Andrew’s family and colleagues were furious. The judge’s decision was seen as not only a grave injustice but a betrayal of the sacrifices that police officers make to protect their communities.

In the aftermath of this trial, there were widespread calls for changes to the legal system to ensure that those who kill police officers in the line of duty face the harshest penalties possible.

The Guilty Teens
The Guilty Teens

In response to the public outrage, the UK government announced plans to introduce “Harper’s Law,” named after Andrew Harper , which would increase the sentences for those who kill emergency workers, including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics, in the line of duty. The proposed law aimed to impose a life sentence for those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving while evading police.

The tragic death of Andrew Harper and the subsequent legal proceedings sparked a national conversation about the safety and protection of emergency workers. It also highlighted the need for legal reforms to ensure that those who commit such heinous acts face severe consequences.

The memory of Andrew Harper continues to serve as a symbol of the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and the importance of safeguarding those who dedicate their lives to protecting others.

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