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story.lead_photo.caption Hasten Nathaniel Merworth

BENTONVILLE -- A Benton County sheriff's deputy was justified last month in shooting a man involved in a standoff, Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said Friday.

Smith made the determination in Cpl. Matt Nading's case.

Hasten Merworth, 33, of Gentry was being held Monday in the Benton County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond. He was arrested in connection with aggravated assault on a certified law enforcement officer or an employee of a correctional facility and violation of a protection order.

Deputies went to 23465 W. Mountain Road in Decatur on March 13 to find Merworth in connection with violation of a protection order, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Merworth was sitting in the driver's seat of a silver Ford pickup. Deputies saw Merworth had a gun and used their cars to block the pickup, according to the affidavit.

Lt. Harold Gage saw Merworth put the gun in his lap. The deputies took cover and tried to resolve the situation verbally, according to the affidavit.

The camera in a deputy's patrol car didn't record the shooting, but it was able to pick up some of the conversation between a deputy and Merworth. The deputy urged Merworth to get out of the pickup, but Merworth told him he wanted to die, according to the affidavit.

A second dashboard camera recorded the back of the pickup and audio of deputies repeatedly telling Merworth to put down the gun.

Merworth fired his gun multiple times from the pickup and Nading returned fire, according to the affidavit. Merworth was shot in his face and leg. He was airlifted to a hospital in Springfield, Mo.

The Arkansas State Police was assigned to investigate the shooting.

"Every police officer has the right to go home safely at the end of the day," Smith said. "In this case, the suspect had violated an order of protection and refused to obey the commands of officers who attempted to lawfully arrest him for that offense. When the suspect pointed his loaded gun at Cpl. Nading, Cpl. Nading was justified in shooting the suspect under Arkansas law because he had a reasonable fear that the suspect was about to shoot him."

Merworth appeared in court Monday via video for his arraignment that was reset to April 29. Charges haven't yet been filed.

Metro on 04/23/2019

Print Headline: Prosecutor: Deputy justified in shooting

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