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Vero cops arrested after altercation

Photo: Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey talks about his two officers that were arrested Oct. 10.

Vero Beach Police officers Nicholas Allen Knutson and Joshua Daniel Harris are both out on bail after being arrested just after 3 a.m. Monday morning in the city limits after an altercation with an on-duty police officer.

Knutson was initially charged with driving under the influence, and Harris was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly intoxication. Both were picked up near the Vero Beach High School Citrus Bowl in the 1600 block of 17th Avenue in Vero Beach.

Police Chief David Currey said he was notified of the incident at 1:55 a.m. Monday, but that he did not come in and question the officers. “We are conducting an internal investigation in addition to the criminal investigation. Lt. Matt Monaco is conducting the internal investigation,” Currey said.

“They are both on paid administrative leave and we have their vehicles. They remain employed as police officers while we conduct our internal investigation,” Currey added. He said the officers received formal notice of being placed on leave shortly after they bailed out of jail Monday afternoon. The officers have not been asked to turn in their badges or their weapons.

Currey said the incident happened “on the streets, if you will,” and summarized what is in the police report that is public record.

The two officers were apparently out together, and an on-duty officer encountered Harris and Harris knocked a mirror off his police car, resulting in the criminal mischief charge, Currey said, and Harris’ behavior and demeanor warranted the disorderly intoxication charge.

Then Knutson drove up in his pick-up truck, presumably looking to see where Harris had gone, and he was suspected to be intoxicated.

Knutson was sworn in as a new officer in February 2014. Harris has been on the force since October 2013, serves on the city’s Critical Response Team and was named Officer of the Quarter in April 2015. Prior to becoming a police officer, Harris worked for the city as a lifeguard, and appeared in news reports for catching a purse snatcher on the beach. Court records show Harris went through a divorce in April.

Their dates of birth and home addresses are being withheld as private by the Sheriff’s Office, as is customary when law enforcement officers are booked into the jail.

Det. Brad Kmetz, who serves as the local union representative for Vero’s rank and file officers, declined to comment about the arrests or about whether the union is providing any representation.