BETHEL HEIGHTS (KFSM) -- The Benton County prosecutor ruled Tuesday (Oct. 11) that two Bethel Heights officers were justified in firing shots at a suspect during an undercover sting operation on Sept. 14.
Cpl. Nicholas Jones and Officer Juan Hernandez shot Justin Ray Delacruz, 20, after he responded to an ad on backpage.com and came to a home on Lincoln Drive seeking sex for payment, according to Delacruz's probable cause report.
When Jones and Hernandez announced themselves and approached Delacruz in his car after he pulled into the driveway, the suspect reversed his car, hitting a patrol vehicle that had blocked him in, then he struck Jones, who flew over the hood of the car, the report states. That’s when Jones and Hernandez opened fire at Delacruz who continued driving on the front lawn of the home, according to the report.
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, the report states. Delacruz was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was booked into the Benton County Detention Center on Sept. 20 on charges of patronizing a prostitute, two counts of second-degree battery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the report.
Jones was also taken to the hospital and was released several hours later with a sprain and bruises, the police department said.
Arkansas State Police investigated the officers' use of force and then passed their findings along to Prosecutor Nathan Smith, who found Jones and Hernandez had reasonable belief Delacruz was committing the offense of aggravated assault and/or first-degree battery and was attempting to use unlawful deadly physical force.