To prepare for trials, he interviewed people in his messy office, shirt sleeves rolled up, face to face, rather than in a sterile conference room.
“You could almost visualize Alex being the victim himself — he would bend his body in his chair to make sure he’s level with that person,” said Tom Andrews, an investigator and former Oakland, Calif., police officer. “He treated the victims like gold — 32 years in the business, not too many D.A.s did that.”
Alley Muñoz, who until last month was a victim advocate for Waymakers, a nonprofit which supports victims through the court process, said Harrison was unusually empathetic and meticulous.
“After he was hired he came into my cubicle and he said: ‘I want to get to know these victims. I want to know what services you offer,’” she said. “They were not just another case or another number.”
Sometimes, Harrison’s youthful bearing surprised people in court.
“He’s got this baby face, and my first impression was — oh, buddy, you’re going to get torn up when you go up against one of the high-end old defense attorneys,” said Craig Lawler, an investigator. “That was not the case. Oh my Lord, it was like unleashing a pit bull.”
In a 2019 child molestation case, the defense summoned a psychologist from California State University, Northridge. Children were not reliable court witnesses, the expert claimed, because they could get confused.
Harrison challenged every paper published by the expert. The psychologist conceded that he had never interviewed a child who had been sexually abused, nor done any advanced forensic training.