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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Hearnsberger - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

A Little Rock high school administrator, arrested in a hit-and-run case that injured a Little Rock police lieutenant, told authorities he "absolutely did not realize" he hit anyone, police documents show.

Keith Hearnsberger, 36, faces two counts of first-degree battery, along with a third felony count, online court records show.

A Little Rock Police Department case file obtained Wednesday reveals new information on the early Nov. 5 hit-and-run on West Daisy Gatson Bates Drive that injured Little Rock police Lt. Johnny Gilbert and the man he was arresting.

A Little Rock School District spokesman reported last year that Hearnsberger was an assistant principal at McClellan High School in southwest Little Rock. The official also reported Hearnsberger had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Hearnsberger's employment status with the district was unknown Wednesday night.

The case file shows Hearnsberger spoke with authorities in an interview on Nov. 6, the day after the crash. According to the documents, Hearnsberger read a prepared statement and "refused" to answer further questions about the incident.

"I wish to begin this statement by saying that I'm devastated by the injuries to these men and words cannot began to express the anguish of my heart at their condition," he said, according to a transcription of the interview.

Hearnsberger said he began his day at 8 a.m. on Nov. 4 and that day was "visiting and administering to parishioners" in Blytheville. He then told police he was driving his vehicle on West Daisy Gatson Bates Drive in the early hours of the following day, according to the transcription.

"I absolutely did not realize that I had hit anyone on that drive home," he said, the transcription shows.

He saw damage on his vehicle later that Sunday morning as he was leaving to conduct church services as deacon at a Little Rock church, Hearnsberger told police.

He said he believed he may have hit something, but did not know what, the transcription shows.

"After the services I remained at the church for fellowship with my parishioners, and after leaving there I heard the news that a police officer had been struck on Daisy Bates at approximately 1:00 a.m. This was my first indication that someone was struck," Hearnsberger said, according to the transcription.

Since he had the vehicle damage and was in the area at the time, Hearnsberger said he was "horrified" by the prospect he could have been responsible for the incident.

"I immediately contacted an attorney so that I could share this information with the police," he said.

The case file also reveals new information into the Hearnsberger's whereabouts in the time before the crash.

The case report said Hearnsberger was at the 610 Center Bar & Grill in downtown Little Rock on Nov. 4, employees told police.

One bartender reported that Hearnsberger was with a group of five or six people, and he could not remember when Hearnsberger had arrived or left. The case file said the bar tab was paid by one man at 11:48 p.m. on Nov. 4.

"There was a total of fifteen (15) alcohol beverages on the bar tab," the case report said.

The case file also said video evidence from the Taco Bell on Broadway showed a maroon Nissan Murano at the drive-thru window and Hearnsberger "appears" to be the driver. The man who paid for the tab at the bar also appeared to be a passenger in the vehicle, according to the case report.


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Metro on 03/22/2018

Print Headline: Files reveal details on November crash; School exec faces charges in hit-run case

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