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story.lead_photo.caption Eulas Linwood Hughes

BENTONVILLE -- Three law enforcement officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in a Gravette man's shooting last month.

Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith concluded Tuesday that Gravette police officers Christopher Kelly and Scott Gillming, along with Jarod Morgan, a Benton County sheriff's deputy, were justified in shooting Eulas Linwood Hughes.

Eulas Linwood Hughes, 40, of Gravette is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment at 8 a.m. Feb. 26 before Circuit Judge Brad Karren.

Smith described the law enforcement officer's actions as exemplary.

"Despite facing an armed and threatening suspect, the officers made numerous attempts to negotiate and de-escalate the situation," Smith's states in his written decision. "Rather than firing immediately when the suspect pointed a gun at them, as the law permits them to do, the officers put their own lives at risk by continuing to negotiate with an armed suspect in a effort to resolve the situation peacefully."

Gravette police officers were dispatched at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 20 to a suicidal subject call in the area of 405 Second Ave. S.E., according to a probable cause affidavit. The officers did not see anyone and decided to check at Hughes' residence at 407 Second Ave. S.E. because of similar calls in the past, according to court documents.

Officer Chance Fink said he rounded a privacy fence and saw Hughes pointing a rifle at him, according to the affidavit. Fink took cover and told Hughes to put his weapon down, according to the affidavit.

Hughes refused and at least four times said he would shoot police if they came any closer, according to the affidavit.

According to Smith's letter, the officers made repeated requests for Hughes to put down his weapons, but Hughes pointed his guns at officers and made threats toward them.

Gillming reported Hughes also pointed the gun at him, according to the affidavit.

Gravette Police Chief Chuck Skaggs arrived and was parking his vehicle by the driveway when Hughes pointed the gun at him, according to the affidavit.

Fink heard thuds and was advised that Hughes was trying to get into his house, according to the affidavit. Hughes' wife and two children were in the residence and had not complied with orders to evacuate, according to the affidavit.

Fink tried to get closer and Hughes pointed the gun at him, forcing Fink back behind the fence, according to the affidavit. Hughes tried again to get in the house and Fink heard shots, according to the affidavit.

According to Smith's letter, Kelly fired his rifle twice, Gillming shot twice from his pistol and Morgan fired one round from his rifle.

Hughes was shot three times in the incident. He was carrying two guns -- a Taurus 709 pistol and a Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle, according to Smith's letter.

Hughes, 40, was arrested in connection with seven counts of aggravated assault, four counts of terroristic threatening and two counts of carrying a weapon. He was being held Tuesday in the Benton County Jail with a $150,000 bond set.

Kelly, Gillming and Morgan were placed on administrative leave after the shooting.

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"The situation that confronted the officers in this case was truly a nightmare scenario -- an armed suspect who constituted a deadly threat to officers, bystanders and himself," Smith's letter states. "The restraint, courage and compassion demonstrated by the officers in this case are a credit to their training and character."

NW News on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Officers justified in Gravette shooting

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