SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) – A Sebastian County deputy has been cleared of wrongdoing in a shooting that took place on Aug. 9, according to a letter from Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue.
Deputy Joshua Heidelberg was off duty when he killed a man identified as Justin Higgins, 23, in a shootout on Aug. 9, according to authorities. Higgins had already been involved in one carjacking that evening around 5 p.m., and he later got involved in a shootout with Heidelberg, authorities said.
Heidelberg engaged Higgins as he attempted to carjack Heidelberg’s vehicle. Higgins was holding a gun to the head of a friend of Heidelberg, and he was about to drive away with that friend and Heidelberg’s three children in the car, according to authorities.
That was when Heidelberg killed Higgins with his department-issued weapon, authorities said.
In the letter, Shue said a law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force if the officer believes it is necessary to effect an arrest, prevent the escape of an arrested person or to defend himself or herself or a third person from what the officer believes to be an imminent use of deadly force.
Shue said after he reviewed the law enforcement investigative file, the CD containing 911 calls, radio traffic, digital statements, handwritten statements and was present at the location the day of the incident, he concluded that Heidelberg was justified in discharging his weapon.
In the same letter, Shue also said he concluded that the two Fort Smith Police Department officers who were involved in the incident were justified in their actions.
The Fort Smith police officers were identified as Officer Angus Bradford and Officer Lindsay Herring, authorities said.
The letter from Shue wrapped up saying, “The shooting of Justin Higgins by both the Fort Smith Police Department and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office was justified under Arkansas law, and the result of deadly physical force being reasonable and justifiably applied pursuant to the above-cited statue.”