TRUMANN Trumann's police chief says he is increasing the department's training after an officer was fatally shot during a traffic stop last year, an incident that was captured on a dashboard video released Tuesday.
Chief Chad Henson said in a news conference that officers will now undergo more training at night for traffic stops to try to prevent situations like the one on April 2011 that left Trumann Officer Jonathan Schmidt dead.
The gunman, 38-year-old Jerry Lard, was sentenced to death after being convicted of capital murder last month. In the video, Lard is seen bolting from a car and firing multiple shots. At one point, Schmidt is audible begging for his life before additional shots are fired.
Henson called Schmidt a great police officer whose death will be a lesson for current and future members of his agency.
"He's pushing us forward," Henson said. "We'll be better for it ... We're ready to heal. We're ready to move on."
Prosecutor Scott Ellington also spoke at the news conference, thanking the jury for its verdict and saying the decision showed their "courage and fortitude."
"We knew it'd take all 12 jurors to impose the death sentence," Ellington said. "And they did. And that we are thankful for."
Ellington said his office began receiving requests for the dashboard video, which was shown during the trial, shortly after the verdict was reached.
Donald Schmidt, Jonathan Schmidt's father, attended the news conference with other family members and spoke afterward. He said he doubted he will ever watch the dashboard footage again, adding the family saw it during the trial and lives with the images each day.
"If you would like to lay down every night when you go to bed and see someone murdering your son and wake up every morning and see someone murdering your son, you can imagine what our life is like," he said, tears in his eyes. "Keep your children away. Don't let them watch it. Because it is very, very ugly."
Arkansas Online has posted a copy of part of the video. It ends with the initial shots fired and does not include the audio of Schmidt pleading to Lard, "please don't shoot me."