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Searcy man wrongly charged in Hillcrest hit-and-run

By Lee Hogan

This article was originally published March 18, 2013 at 11:31 a.m. Updated March 18, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.

Claude Smith

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Little Rock Police on Monday said a Searcy man was wrongly charged in a hit-and-run accident that occurred Jan. 7 on Kavanaugh Boulevard.

Police responded to a hit-and-run about 9:30 a.m., when 61-year-old Lois Sandusky was hit in the crosswalk on Beechwood Street at Kavanaugh Boulevard.

The accident report says a white Ford 150 pickup turned right onto Beechwood, hit Sandusky and ran over her with the left front tire. The report states the driver never stopped and ran over Sandusky a second time with the rear left tire.

Steven Kissinger, 33, of Searcy, was identified as a suspect and arrested Jan. 10.

Police spokesman Sgt. Cassandra Davis said in an e-mail Monday that "investigators determined that although Mr. Kissinger’s truck was similar in color and style to the suspect vehicle, it was not the vehicle involved in the hit and run."

Davis continued in the e-mail that "investigators also determined that although Mr. Kissinger resembled the suspect he was not the driver of the vehicle that struck the pedestrian."

Davis said witnesses advised police that the truck had military tags, which led to a connection with Kissinger. However, surveillance video obtained by police disputed what witnesses described, Davis said. Further investigation into the license plate revealed the truck had a specialized plate, but did not have military tags as witnesses stated.

Davis said further investigation led to a warrant being issued Friday for 42-year-old Claude Smith, of Little Rock.

Smith turned himself into Judge Alice Lightle's court at 10 a.m. Monday, Davis said. He is charged with felony hit-and-run, careless and prohibited driving, failure to yield to pedestrian in a crosswalk, driving on a suspended driver's license, expired vehicle registration and no insurance.

According to the Pulaski County sheriff's office website, Smith is being held in lieu of $5,000 bond.


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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

arkienanna says... March 18, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

Thank goodness they have at least publicised that Steven Kissinger was wrongly accused. I can only imagine what this accusation has done to his life! I know this happens sometimes, and I am so glad that the LRPD is decent enough to admit when a mistake has been made and not continue to ruin someone's life just to save face. Thanks for sticking with the investigation. All parties involved are better served when the real culprit is apprehended.

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NoUserName says... March 18, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.

Good to see LRPD thoroughly investigated it first. I mean, surveillance video? Why would be bother with that? Another gold star for our top notch police force. At least they didn't shoot him...

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Ran2133 says... March 18, 2013 at 4:09 p.m.

Glad they got it right! Just goes to show, so called, eye witnesses are not always reliable! This has been proven time and again. If I were sitting on a jury I would be very skeptical of "eye witness" testimony; particularly, with respect to small details. Having said that, a juror must not only evaluate what the witness says but, how they deliver their testimony, how they act, how credible their testimony seems, etc. One thing I have learned is, generally speaking, when presented with strong evidence, juries usually get it right: except in Chicago where to many times law enforcement officers are liars! Of course, their politicians lie, too!

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arky870 says... March 18, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.

so they rush an arrest to make themselves look good. ruin a man's life. then get to go oops our bad he is innocent??? i hope he sues them. everyone involved in the warrant process should be fired and jailed for going off half arsed to make this arrest.

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