Prosecutor: Bethel Heights officers justified in using deadly force

Two Bethel Heights police officers were justified in shooting a man who hit one of the officers with a car, according to Nathan Smith, Benton County’s prosecuting attorney.

Smith announced his decision Tuesday that Bethel Heights police officers — Nick Jones and Juan Hernandez — would not face any criminal charges in the shooting of Justin Ryan Delacruz. Smith found that the officers actions were justified when each shot Delacruz once.

The shooting occurred Sept. 14 near the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Apple Blossom Avenue.

Police were attempting to apprehend Delacruz in a a prostitution sting and he put his car in reverse in an attempt to flee the scene, according to court documents. Delacruz drove toward Jones who was unable to evade Delacruz’s vehicle and he fired one shot into Delacruz’s vehicle and hit Delacruz, according to court documents.

Jones was then struck by Delacruz vehicle and he rolled over the top of the vehicle and Jones was able to fire two more shots and hit Delacruz once, according to court documents.

Hernandez fired three shots at Delacruz and also shot him once, according to court documents.

Delacruz crashed his car into a ditch and then surrendered to officers.

According to Smith, Delzcruz’s unlawful actions created a clear and present danger to Jones’ life and therefore Jones and Hernandez acted reasonably in responding “to the unlawful use of deadly force with lawful deadly force.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly indicated Delacruz had been killed. The error has been corrected.

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