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STATE OF ARKANSAS Scott Ellington

Prosecuting Attorney
Office of the Prosecuting Attorney P.O. Box 1736
Jonesboro, AR 72403
Second Judicial District
(870) 932-1513
Fax: (870) 336-4011

August 9, 2017

Colonel Bill Bryant


Arkansas State Police
1 State Police Plaza Dr.
Little Rock, AR 72209

RE: Arkansas State Police File No. 2017-0925


Officer Involved Shooting - Marion Police Department

Dear Colonel Bryant:

My office has reviewed the above referenced case summary submitted by the Arkansas State
Police concerning an officer involved shooting on July 25, 2017, involving Aries Bortez Clark,
16 years old, of Crittenden County, Arkansas. After our review, this office concludes that Marion
Police officers Brannon Hinkle and Wesley Smith were justified in using lethal force.

Arkansas Code Annotated Section 5-2-601(b)(2) allows the use of deadly force if the officer
reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to defend himself or a third person
from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly force. The
investigation revealed that Marion Police Officers Wesley Smith and Brannon Hinkle were
confronted with circumstances justifying the use of deadly force the afternoon Aries Clark was
shot.

Employees of the East Arkansas Youth Services (EAYS) located at 104 Cypress Avenue in
Marion, Arkansas, contacted Marion Police Department on July 25, 2017 and requested police
assistance after Aries Clark, a juvenile male, came to the facility attempting to gain entry into the
building. Clark had been placed at EAYS by an earlier court order. He left the facility on July 23,
2017 without permission or court approval. His status was what is commonly referred to as
AWOL - absent without leave. EAYS is not a locked down facility - meaning youths are not
locked inside and are not prevented from leaving the facility if they take a notion to disobey a
courts placement order and walk away.

On July 25, 2017 at approximately 6:35 P.M., Clark returned to the facility. He was not
permitted into the facility and he left. At approximately 7:06 P.M., Clark returned a second time
and EAYS staff called dispatch and Marion Police Department (MPD) was called to respond.
This is a common practice at the facility. When residents walk away from the facility they are
not permitted back into the facility until they are cleared of possession of drugs or weapons by
the MPD.

The first officer to respond to EYAS observed that Clark had a handgun. According to radio
logs, the responding officer notified dispatch and other officers about the gun at 7:11
p.m. Officers repeatedly advised Clark to put the gun down. Several other officers responded to
the area, including deputies with Crittenden County Sheriffs Office. Clark did not obey the clear
audible commands to drop the gun given by officers.

An audio record of the incident was captured on four body cameras worn by officers who
responded. Only one of the police issued body cameras captured video footage of Clarks
movements. The other three were obstructed or not perfectly aligned with the subject as the
encounter unfolded. However, the audio captured on all four body cameras indicates officers
ordered, cajoled, encouraged, and begged Clark to rid himself of the weapon. As officers
attempted to convince Clark to drop his weapon, the juvenile turned and focused his attention on
other officers to the south of him. Officers on the scene continued to negotiate with Clark for
well over ten minutes attempting to get him to drop the weapon. A few seconds after the ten
minute mark, Clark faced the officers to the south of him and advanced in that direction. Clark
pointed his weapon in the direction of those officers. Observing the imminent danger the other
officers were in, Officer Smith immediately fired his service weapon at Clark, who was struck
multiple times. Clark collapsed to the ground and officers approached in a tactical manner. As
soon as the gun was removed from Clarks hand, officers immediately summoned an ambulance
on the scene and life saving techniques were used in an attempt to save Clarks life. Clark was
transported to Regional One hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and died.

The footage from Officer Smiths body camera shows Clark acting agitated and then it shows
him raising his gun toward the officers he was facing. Two stills from the video clearly show
Clark with a gun in his hand.

The investigation reveals two officers fired their service weapons. Officer Hinkle was on the
southwest side of the EAYS building, south of Clark and in Clarks line of fire. Evidence
reveals Hinkle fired two shots and from his rifle but neither struck Clark. Agents recovered two
.223 caliber shell casings near the position where Hinkle stood during the incident.

Officer Wesley Smith took a position northwest of the building behind a shade tree. When Clark
raised his gun toward Hinkle and the other officers, Smith was to Clarks right rear. He stepped
from behind the tree and fired his service weapon four times, striking Clark three of those four
times. This is consistent with the medical examiners findings that the entry wounds of the three
shots that hit Clark were in the back of his head, in his back, and in his buttocks. Agents
recovered four .40 caliber shell casings near the position where Smith fired his service weapon.

Agents also recovered a solid black 1911 BB pistol from the location where Clark fell after he
was shot.

Agents conducted interviews of all law enforcement officers present during the shooting as well
as civilian witnesses who observed the incident unfold. All reported to agents that Clark raised
his gun toward the officers who were standing south of his location prior to Smith and Hinkle
discharging their weapons. This is consistent with what is shown in the body camera video and a
video provided by a civilian bystander.
Clarks actions that day brought about the circumstances that threatened the lives of at least four
law enforcement officers had the gun he brandished been a firearm as was perceived by the
responding officers, and I cannot find that the officers acted criminally. Therefore, I find the
officers were justified under these circumstances and no criminal charges will be filed in this
matter.

I understand there is considerable media interest in this case. I will retain portions of the body
camera videos and the civilian video for a limited period of time on a digital platform to make
available to the press. My copies of the preliminary investigation summary and body camera
videos will be returned to the Arkansas State Police immediately. I understand your agency will
continue your investigation of this matter, specifically by collecting the final autopsy,
toxicology, and other data necessary to make your file complete. If you have any questions,
please let me know. Thank you for your service.

Sincerely,

Scott Ellington
Prosecuting Attorney
2nd Judicial District

CC: Chief Gary Kelley, Marion Police Department


Sheriff Mike Allen, Crittenden County Sheriff
Major Mark Hollingsworth, Arkansas State Police
Lt. Stacie Rhoads, Arkansas State Police
Sp. Agent Aundrae Mack, Arkansas State Police