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Police release video of officer shooting, vow to learn from tragedy

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published August 7, 2012 at 10:34 a.m. Updated August 7, 2012 at 1:04 p.m.


Prosecutor Scott Ellington speaks beside Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson during a news conference Tuesday.

Dashboard footage shows police shooting

Warning: This video contains graphic content. Dashboard footage released Tuesday shows an April 2011...

Authorities vow to learn from fatal officer shooting

Authorities in Trumann on Tuesday said they will increase training after a an April 2011 incident in which an officer was fatally shot. The gunman, Jerry Lard, was sentenced to death in the case last month. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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— 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."


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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 total comments

MenLR2 says... August 7, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.

WOW ..... Do not watch the video if you want to have a good day. Glad my kids don't have access to this site.

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RMILLER61 says... August 7, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.

Amazing that a year later, they are announcing that they will be changing up the training to hopefully avoid situations like this. Shouldn't that have been an immediate decision!!!

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oink2u2 says... August 7, 2012 at 12:55 p.m.

What a waste of taxpayers' money to hold this piece of trash in jail, pay for a trial, appeals, etc. Too bad he could not have been killed on the spot like the animal that killed the people in their temple in Wisconsin.

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SRBROTHERINLAW says... August 7, 2012 at 1 p.m.


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SPA says... August 7, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.

I don't understand what happened here. Why was the one suspect left in the car so long? Why was the woman uncuffed, and running around mouthing off? God, what a horrible chain of events. So glad the jury did not shy from the sentence of capital murder. But training, yes, training is in order. It can and does happen even in small towns. I hope the family can have some peace after the sentencing, but if this were my family member who was so slain, I'd bear some resentment about the lack of tighter protocol. Nothing but bad memories from this, for sure.

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GoodMorningUncleSam says... August 7, 2012 at 5:10 p.m.

Its always sad to see a brother fall and yes, training is the answer. Unfortunately though, it is very difficult for officers from a smaller agency to receive the training they deserve. I started with a much smaller agency and it was not uncommon for a new officer to work the streets a year before going to the academy. The agency that I have been with for the last 18 years requires each officer receive 40 hours/year in addition to quarterly firearms training.

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