Occurred July 25 outside the East Arkansas Youth Services, a facility that caters to at-risk and delinquent youths.
Officer Wesley Smith of Marion. Arkansas has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of 16-year-old Aries Clark. After the prosecutor Scott Ellington released body cam footage of the incident he issued a statement;
“Clark’s 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 the matter.”
As is so common in these incidents, there has been a massive outcry. Blacks are outraged that “another innocent black was killed by a white cop.” The media has skewed the coverage naturally, as in this clip where they claim the teenager was “shot on sight.”
Police were called to the youth center after Clark had tried to enter the center. He had been staying there on a court order but had walked away without permission two days earlier. It is their policy for the police to be called to make sure residents who leave don’t try to re-enter with weapons or drugs. Clark was carrying a weapon, or so it appeared to officers.
The video shows the teenager holding what looks to be a handgun but was later discovered to be a BB gun. The police officers can be heard ordering, begging, and encouraging Clark to drop the realistic looking weapon. One officer promised to put his own weapon down if the teen would do the same. He said, “You’re somebody’s kid, man. We don’t want to do this.”
Officer Brannon Hinkle was also on the scene, positioned on the other side of the lawn from Officer Smith. When the teenager raised the gun towards officer Hinkle, both officers fired but only Smith’s rounds hit Clark. He was struck three times in the back of his head, back, and buttocks.
Clark’s grandmother claims the officers did not have to kill her non-violent grandson;
“I think it’s unfair and unreasonable. If you’re a trained police officer, you can injure someone and not kill them.”
Yes, the officers could have tried to avoid killing the teenager. However, that would have been completely against their training and a danger in the situation they were in. A suspect with a gun, which everyone thought Clark had, is a danger until he is stopped or in custody. Wounding him in the leg wouldn’t have prevented him from firing at the officers. Since they couldn’t get to him to handcuff him and he was pointing a weapon at them, they were left with little choice.
It is not a happy even when a person’s life is taken. Officers gave Clark every single chance they could to try and prevent what eventually occurred. When the teenager refused to listen and then made the choice to point the gun at officers, he also chose the outcome.
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