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story.lead_photo.caption At left, Ralph Breshears is shown in a mug shot taken at the Pulaski County jail. The photo at right shows shoplifting and robbery suspect Rudy Avila being taken into an ambulance after being shot in west Little Rock on July 19.

Little Rock police on Tuesday released surveillance video of a July officer-involved shooting, an incident that led to the officer's arrest on a misdemeanor battery charge.

Ralph Breshears, a former Little Rock police officer, was arrested last week on one count of third-degree battery that stemmed from his role in the shooting outside a Chick-fil-A in west Little Rock on July 19.

Breshears, 56, shot and wounded 23-year-old Rudy Avila, a shoplifting suspect who fled police custody, forced a woman from her vehicle in the restaurant's drive-thru lane and tried to drive away, according to police.

Breshears retired from the agency in December, police said.

In a statement released a day after the shooting, Little Rock police said Avila had tried to "drive around a vehicle in front of him and drove toward Officer Breshears." The statement said Breshears, in fear of his life, fired at Avila.

Yet, an affidavit approved this month stated that "at no point was Breshears in any danger of being run over by the vehicle." According to the court documents, Breshears fired his service weapon and hit Avila, "placing the female victim in harm's way."

The documents also said Breshears gave a taped statement of facts during the investigation that "appear to be inconsistent with what can be seen on surveillance video."

After the shots were fired, Avila drove the stolen vehicle down an embankment and into another vehicle, police said.

The surveillance video released Tuesday shows a man walking through shrubs and into the drive-thru lane of the Chick-fil-A, where he goes to the driver's side door of a car. The woman, according to the video, is out of the car by the time the vehicle goes forward.

Audio released Tuesday also provides new details into the moments before and after the shooting.

On the audio, Breshears can be heard telling a person to get out of the car. Gunshots then ring out as tires screech. After the shooting, Avila can be heard screaming in pain and apologizing.

"Please help, I'm not going to hurt anybody, I promise," he says, according to the audio.

Less than a minute later, Breshears can be heard saying, "Suspect shot, I'm good."

A case file released Tuesday also provides new information into what Breshears told Little Rock investigators after the shooting.

According to a transcription of the interview, Breshears said he saw the shoplifting suspect begin to assault a woman in the drive-thru. Breshears said he then approached and got close to the vehicle.

"I'm yelling for him to stop and he's coming out of the drive-thru because it's a one lane right there," according to the documents.

"And there's concrete for him to pull over but it would be difficult for him to pull and get around all the other cars," according to the file. "I didn't have any place to go at that point. Fearing that he was gonna take this twenty five hundred pound car and put it on top of me cause at this point he is not very happy with us."

Breshears continued and said "he cuts the wheel comes out and that's when I shot at least two times," according to the transcript.

Later in the interview, Breshears said "He easily could get me. And I had no place to go except and try and move out of the way," according to the transcript.

The affidavit states that "at no point was Breshears in any danger of being run over by the vehicle."

When asked during the interview why he shot into the vehicle, Breshears responded that he was afraid of getting hurt or killed.

Records show Breshears had previously been fired from the Police Department in 2003 after police officials found he unlawfully arrested a woman and included false information in an incident report, among other violations of department policy.

The city's Civil Service Commission upheld the firing on a 4-1 vote. Later in 2003, Breshears filed a lawsuit against the city of Little Rock, arguing that he was wrongfully terminated and that he was fired in retaliation for him protesting the sexual harassment of a fellow police officer.

The suit also argued that Breshears, who is white, was racially discriminated against by the department's chief at the time.

Breshears' personnel records show he was scheduled to return to the Little Rock Police Department in April 2005 after he and the city reached a settlement.

According to the settlement, Breshears agreed to approve the dismissal of the lawsuit, and in return the city agreed to reinstate him with the Little Rock Police Department.

Lt. Michael Ford, a Police Department spokesman, said last week that Breshears is the first Little Rock officer to be arrested over on-duty actions since former officer Josh Hastings, who was charged with manslaughter in 2012. Hastings shot and killed 15-year-old Bobby Moore III in August 2012. Two criminal trials both ended in mistrials for Hastings, who was fired from the department.

Hastings has since been found liable for the teenager's death in a civil lawsuit.

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Metro on 01/31/2018

Print Headline: LR police release video of July shooting by arrested officer

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