FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Fort Smith Police were justified in the shooting of a Fort Smith man during a domestic disturbance call last October, the Sebastian County prosecutor said in a letter Friday.
Prosecutor Daniel Shue announced his decision Friday (March 15) in a letter to Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark. The decision stemmed from an investigation into the shooting of Samuel Morris, 27, of Fort Smith on Oct. 13, 2018.
Morris was shot after police responded to a call of a domestic disturbance involving weapons at the Allied Gardens apartments at 5221 Johnson Street. Police said Morris was threatening a person at knifepoint when police arrived, but the person got away from Morris.
Police repeatedly told Morris to drop the knife, but he refused. He was then shot by an officer and was transported to an area hospital, where he later died.
In his letter to Clark, Shue said that he had reviewed the entire investigative file, the 911 calls, radio traffic and witness statements from the incident. After consulting with the family, investigators had released the audio of the incident back in October.
"It is the opinion of this office that the involvement of the Fort Smith Police Department officer in discharging his weapon was justified under the laws of the State of Arkansas," Shue said.
Shue cited Arkansas Code Annotated 5-2-610, Use of Physical Force by Law Enforcement Officers, which states in part that officers are justified in the use of deadly force if they reasonably believes it is necessary to effect an arrest or prevent an escape of a person who has committed a felony and is presently armed and dangerous, or if the officer believes that they or a third party is in imminent danger of deadly physical force and must use deadly force in defense of that.