LR po­lice re­lease video of July shoot­ing by ar­rested of­fi­cer

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - RYAN TARINELLI

Lit­tle Rock po­lice on Tues­day re­leased sur­veil­lance video of a July of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing, an in­ci­dent that led to the of­fi­cer’s ar­rest on a mis­de­meanor bat­tery charge.

Ralph Bres­hears, a for­mer Lit­tle Rock po­lice of­fi­cer, was ar­rested last week on one count of third-de­gree bat­tery that stemmed from his role in the shoot­ing out­side a Chick­fil-A in west Lit­tle Rock on July 19.

Bres­hears, 56, shot and wounded 23-year-old Rudy Avila, a shoplift­ing sus­pect who fled po­lice cus­tody, forced a woman from her ve­hi­cle in the restau­rant’s drive-thru lane and tried to drive away, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Bres­hears re­tired from the agency in De­cem­ber, po­lice said.

In a state­ment re­leased a day af­ter the shoot­ing, Lit­tle Rock po­lice said Avila had tried to “drive around a ve­hi­cle in front of him and drove to­ward Of­fi­cer Bres­hears.” The state­ment said Bres­hears, in fear of his life, fired at Avila. Yet an af­fi­davit ap­proved this month stated that “at no point was Bres­hears in any dan­ger of be­ing run over by the ve­hi­cle.” Ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments, Bres­hears fired his ser­vice weapon and hit Avila, “plac­ing the fe­male vic­tim in harm’s way.”

The doc­u­ments also said Bres­hears gave a taped state­ment of facts dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that “ap­pear to be in­con­sis­tent with what can be seen on sur­veil­lance video.”

Af­ter the shots were fired,

Avila drove the stolen ve­hi­cle down an em­bank­ment and into an­other ve­hi­cle, po­lice said.

The sur­veil­lance video re­leased Tues­day shows a man walk­ing through shrubs and into the drive-thru lane of the Chick-fil-A, where he goes to the driver’s side door of a car. The woman, ac­cord­ing to the video, is out of the car by the time the ve­hi­cle goes for­ward.

Au­dio re­leased Tues­day also pro­vides new de­tails into the mo­ments be­fore and af­ter the shoot­ing.

On the au­dio, Bres­hears can be heard telling a per­son to get out of the car. Gun­shots then ring out as tires screech. Af­ter the shoot­ing, Avila can be heard scream­ing in pain and apol­o­giz­ing.

“Please help, I’m not go­ing to hurt any­body, I prom­ise,” he says, ac­cord­ing to the au­dio.

Less than a minute later, Bres­hears can be heard say­ing, “Sus­pect shot, I’m good.”

A case file re­leased Tues­day also pro­vides new in­for­ma­tion into what Bres­hears told Lit­tle Rock in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter the shoot­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a tran­scrip­tion of the in­ter­view, Bres­hears said he saw the shoplift­ing sus­pect be­gin to as­sault a woman in the drive-thru. Bres­hears said he then ap­proached and got close to the ve­hi­cle.

“I’m yelling for him to stop and he’s com­ing out of the drive-thru be­cause it’s a one lane right there,” ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

“And there’s con­crete for him to pull over but it would be dif­fi­cult for him to pull and get around all the other cars,” ac­cord­ing to the file. “I didn’t have any place to go at that point. Fear­ing that he was gonna take this twenty five hun­dred pound car and put it on top of me cause at this point he is not very happy with us.”

Bres­hears con­tin­ued and said “he cuts the wheel comes out and that’s when I shot at least two times,” ac­cord­ing to the tran­script.

Later in the in­ter­view, Bres­hears said “He eas­ily could get me. And I had no place to go ex­cept and try and move out of the way,” ac­cord­ing to the tran­script.

The af­fi­davit states that “at no point was Bres­hears in any dan­ger of be­ing run over by the ve­hi­cle.”

When asked dur­ing the in­ter­view why he shot into the ve­hi­cle, Bres­hears re­sponded that he was afraid of get­ting hurt or killed.

Records show Bres­hears had pre­vi­ously been fired from the Po­lice Depart­ment in 2003 af­ter po­lice of­fi­cials found he un­law­fully ar­rested a woman and in­cluded false in­for­ma­tion in an in­ci­dent re­port, among other vi­o­la­tions of depart­ment pol­icy.

The city’s Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion up­held the fir­ing on a 4-1 vote. Later in 2003, Bres­hears filed a law­suit against the city of Lit­tle Rock, ar­gu­ing that he was wrong­fully ter­mi­nated and that he was fired in re­tal­i­a­tion for him protest­ing the sex­ual ha­rass­ment of a fel­low po­lice of­fi­cer.

The suit also ar­gued that Bres­hears, who is white, was racially dis­crim­i­nated against by the depart­ment’s chief at the time.

Bres­hears’ per­son­nel records show he was sched­uled to re­turn to the Lit­tle Rock Po­lice Depart­ment in April 2005 af­ter he and the city reached a set­tle­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the set­tle­ment, Bres­hears agreed to ap­prove the dis­missal of the law­suit, and in re­turn the city agreed to re­in­state him with the Lit­tle Rock Po­lice Depart­ment.

Lt. Michael Ford, a Po­lice Depart­ment spokesman, said last week that Bres­hears is the first Lit­tle Rock of­fi­cer to be ar­rested over on-duty ac­tions since for­mer of­fi­cer Josh Hast­ings, who was charged with­manslaugh­ter in 2012. Hast­ings shot and killed 15-year-old Bobby Moore III in Au­gust 2012. Two crim­i­nal tri­als both ended in mis­tri­als for Hast­ings, who was fired from the depart­ment.

Hast­ings has since been found li­able for the teenager’s death in a civil law­suit.

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