GRAVETTE Three law enforcement officers have been cleared of wrongdoing in a Gravette man's shooting last month.
Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said Tuesday that Gravette police officers Christopher Kelly, Scott Gillming and Jarod Morgan, a Benton County Sheriff's Office deputy, were justified in shooting Eulas Linwood Hughes.
Smith described the officer's actions as exemplary.
"Despite facing an armed and threatening suspect, the officers made numerous attempts to negotiate and de-escalate the situation," Smith says in his written decision. "Rather than firing immediately when the suspect pointed a gun at them, as the law permits them to do, the officers put their own lives at risk by continuing to negotiate with an armed suspect in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully."
Gravette police officers were sent at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 20 to a suicidal subject call in the area of 405 Second Ave. S.E., according to a probable cause affidavit. The officers didn't see anyone and decided to check at Hughes' home at 407 Second Ave. S.E. because of similar calls in the past, according to court documents.
Officer Chance Fink said he rounded a privacy fence and saw Hughes pointing a rifle at him, according to the affidavit. Fink took cover and told Hughes to put his weapon down, according to the affidavit.
Hughes refused and at least four times said he would shoot police if they came any closer, according to the affidavit.
The officers repeatedly asked Hughes to put down his weapons, but Hughes pointed his guns at officers and threatened them, according to Smith's letter.
Gillming said Hughes also pointed the gun at him, according to the affidavit.
Gravette Police Chief Chuck Skaggs arrived and was parking his vehicle when Hughes pointed the gun at him, according to the affidavit.
Fink was told Hughes was trying to get into his house, according to the affidavit. Hughes' wife and two children were in the home, according to the affidavit.
Fink tried to get closer and Hughes pointed the gun at him, forcing Fink back behind the fence, according to the affidavit. Hughes tried again to get in the house.
Kelly fired his rifle twice, Gillming shot twice from his pistol and Morgan fired one round from his rifle, according to Smith's letter,
Hughes was shot three times. He was carrying two guns -- a Taurus 709 pistol and a Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle, according to Smith's letter.
Hughes, 40, was arrested in connection with seven counts of aggravated assault, four counts of terroristic threatening and two counts of carrying a weapon. He was being held Tuesday in the Benton County Jail with a $150,000 bond set.
Kelly, Gillming and Morgan were placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
Eulas Linwood Hughes, 40, of Gravette is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment at 8 a.m. Feb. 26 before Circuit Judge Brad Karren.
Source: Staf Report