Little Rock police have released video and audio recordings that detail the moments before an officer fatally shot a 28-year-old man as he sped toward a brick wall last fall.
The recordings reveal new information in the October death of James Hartsfield, who was shot by Little Rock officer Brittany Gunn before the 2004 Mercedes-Benz he was driving smashed through a brick wall outside the Prospect Building at 1501 N. University Ave.
Police said Gunn was working off-duty in the early hours of Oct. 7 when she encountered Hartsfield, who appeared to be drinking an alcoholic beverage while driving. According to the department, Hartsfield refused to follow Gunn's orders, struggled with officers and then sped forward with Gunn still inside the car.
Dashboard camera video shows the struggle before the shooting and the immediate aftermath of the car crash.
One video shows officer Nicholas Smith running to assist Gunn as she struggles with Hartsfield inside the Mercedes-Benz.
"What part of that don't you f**king understand?" she says to Hartsfield as Smith gets to the vehicle.
Hartsfield says he does not want to go to jail.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic content and language
"The f**k you going," Gunn replies.
Both officers continue to struggle with him.
Gunn can be heard threatening to shoot Hartsfield.
"Please don't shoot me," Hartsfield says.
The struggle continues and Smith is seen on the video trying to pull Hartsfield out of the car through the driver's door.
Then, with Gunn in the passenger seat, the car jerks forward and then moves off camera. Within moments, three shots ring out, followed seconds later by the sound of a crash in the distance, according to the audio.
Gunn told authorities she pulled her firearm and told Hartsfield to stop resisting or she would shoot him, according to the case file. The threat did not work, so she re-holstered the firearm and grabbed her Taser, the case report said.
"Officer Gunn stated that she attempted to 'drive stun' him but the Taser seemed to have no effect on him," according to the case report.
According to the documents, Gunn said she saw Smith get to the Mercedes-Benz as she was drawing her firearm for a second time.
At the time the car sped forward, Gunn told authorities, there are usually "numerous cars and people" on the parking lot near closing time for a bar and grill located inside the Prospect Building.
"She stated that she was in fear for her life and feared for the life of the people on the lot and by shooting the subject she hoped to bring the incident and car to a stop," the case report says.
The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office has cleared Gunn of criminal wrongdoing in the case. John Johnson, chief deputy prosecutor, said the office examined the facts and circumstances of the shooting and ruled the gunfire was a justified use of force.
Arkansas law states that a law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force to defend himself or another person from what an officer "reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force."
Little Rock police spokesman Lt. Michael Ford reported earlier this year that Hartsfield died from Gunn's bullets and not the vehicle crash after the gunfire.
Dashboard camera video also captured the moment the Mercedes-Benz smashed through the wall. Bricks scattered across the roadway. The Mercedes-Benz rolled to a stop. And Gunn is seen lying on the street among the debris as police rushed to her side.
"We're going to need multiple MEMs units," an officer says.
The Oct. 7 incident was the sixth shooting involving Little Rock police last year. In total, officers involved in five of those shootings have not faced criminal charges.
Metro on 04/09/2018
Print Headline: Audio, video of shooting released; Tape adds details to fatal arrest try