Battery charge filed against ex-officer who shot carjacking suspect in west Little Rock

Posted: January 23, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Rudy Avila, 22, left, was shot by officer Ralph Breshears, right, on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in west Little Rock, police said.

A third-degree battery charge has been filed against a former Little Rock officer who shot and injured a man suspected of shoplifting and robbing a woman of her car, police said Monday.

Rudy Avila, 23, of Little Rock was a suspect in a shoplifting at the Home Depot at 12610 Chenal Parkway when he escaped from officers' custody July 19, authorities previously said. He is accused of then fleeing by foot across the store's parking lot to a nearby Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru and carjacking a vehicle from a woman.

When Avila tried to drive away from the scene, officer Ralph Breshears fired, hitting Avila, according to the Monday news release. A witness reportedly used a vehicle to block Avila's escape.

Avila was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for injuries that weren't life-threatening.

When the department completed its investigation of the shooting, it sent the case file to the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office, which determined Breshears was "negligent" in his actions, police said.

A call to the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney's office was not returned Monday afternoon.

Officers were trying to serve a warrant for Breshears' arrest Monday evening. The department said he retired in December.

Breshears was a 26-year veteran of the department, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported. The July shooting of Avila was at least the third in his career.

He was a narcotics detective in 1997 when he and another officer, Todd Hurd, fatally shot two armed men while executing a search-and-seizure warrant at a house on South Schiller Street. Police identified the men killed as Patrick Harris, 33, and Gary McFadden, 30.

Prosecutors cleared Breshears and Hurd of any wrongdoing in the killings.

In 1995, Breshears fired shots when a drug raid at an apartment on Butler Road turned into a gunfight. He did not hit anyone nor was he injured. But officer Joseph Tucker Fisher, 34, was killed in the shootout. Another officer, Frederick Lee, 26, was shot in the head and critically injured.

Willie Leon Green, then 22 years old, was convicted of first-degree murder in the case and sentenced to life in prison.

Avila was originally charged with criminal attempt, third-degree escape, fleeing, robbery and property theft.

Metro on 01/23/2018

CORRECTION: Rudy Avila, a 23-year-old suspect in a shoplifting and robbery who was shot by a police officer in 2017, remains in the custody of the Arkansas Department of Correction. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported his incarceration status and also included the wrong age.