Report: Bethel Heights Suspect Shot During Undercover Prostitution Sting

justin-delacruz

BETHEL HEIGHTS (KFSM) — A man who was shot by Bethel Heights police officers Sept. 14 was a suspect in an undercover prostitution sting, according to probable cause documents released Thursday (Sept. 22).

Justin Ryan Delacruz, 20, was booked into the Benton County Detention Center Sept. 20 after he was treated and released from the hospital, records show. He is being held on $100,000 bond on suspicion of patronizing a prostitute, two counts of second-degree battery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to jail records.

Delacruz contacted undercover officers after police posted an ad on backpage.com as part of an operation to identify and arrest people seeking sex for payment, Delacruz’s probable cause report shows.

Officers told Delacruz to come to a home on Lincoln Drive and Cpl. Nicholas Jones and Officer Juan Hernandez approached his car after he pulled into the driveway around 11:30 p.m., the probable cause states. Another officer blocked Delacruz in the driveway with his patrol vehicle.

After the officers announced themselves, Delacruz reversed his car, hitting the patrol vehicle behind it, then he struck Jones, who flew over the hood of the car, according to the probable cause. That’s when Jones and Hernandez opened fire at Delacruz who continued driving on the front lawn of the home, the probable cause states.

Delacruz’s car came to a stop after hitting a small culvert nearby and officers saw that he had been hit in his right shoulder, according to the probable cause. Delacruz was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Jones was also taken to the hospital and was released several hours later with a sprain and bruises, the police department said.

After searching his car, officers also found a glass smoking pipe in Delacruz’s vehicle, the probable cause report states.

Since officers shot Delacruz, the Bethel Heights Police Department requested assistance from Arkansas State Police to investigate the officers’ use of force.

Once the ASP investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith who will determine if the shooting was justified. Smith said Thursday that he has not yet received the ASP investigation.

Per standard procedure, Jones and Hernandez are on paid administrative leave until the investigation is over, the police department said.

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