Assistant principal at Little Rock high school pleads innocent to hit-and-run

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Keith Hearnsberger

A Little Rock assistant principal arrested in a hit-and-run that seriously hurt a police lieutenant pleaded innocent Tuesday, and the suspect's attorney said what happened was a "tragic accident."

Keith Hearnsberger's attorney, John Collins, appeared on behalf of his client before Little Rock District Judge Hugh Finkelstein, who set Hearnsberger's bail at $15,000.

Hearnsberger, 35, faces two counts of second-degree battery and one count of leaving the scene of an accident with injury. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving.

Hearnsberger is an assistant principal at McClellan High School, according to Little Rock School District spokesman Pamela Smith. He has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Lt. Johnny Gilbert and a person he was arresting, 25-year-old Daryl Johnson, were struck by a vehicle early Sunday as Gilbert was working an off-duty security detail for an event.

Police said Johnson became upset and began cursing at officers after he wasn't allowed to enter the event at 1102 W. Daisy Gatson Bates Drive after the doors were closed. He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge.

Gilbert was escorting Johnson across the street when both were struck by a vehicle traveling west on West Daisy Gatson Bates Drive around 12:40 a.m. The vehicle, driven by Hearnsberger, then fled, according to authorities.

Gilbert remained in the hospital in "serious but stable condition" on Monday, while Johnson was said to be hospitalized in stable condition.

Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Collins told Arkansas Online that the hit-and-run was a "tragic accident" and offered prayers for the injured officer.

Hearnsberger surrendered to police Monday but was not listed on the jail's inmate roster Tuesday night. His next court appearance is set for Jan. 8.


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Metro on 11/08/2017