A judge has dropped charges against a former Little Rock police officer whose manslaughter trial in the fatal shooting of a teenager while on duty in 2012 twice resulted in deadlocked juries.
Josh Hastings returned to court Monday morning for a hearing before a third trial that had been scheduled to begin next month.
But at the proceeding before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, prosecutors requested dropping the charges instead of going to trial.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson noted the facts were largely undisputed but that the two mistrials brought to light that "this is a unique case where there can be no unanimity of the jury."
"We believe that he should have been found guilty," Johnson said while acknowledging he now believes getting that verdict would be impossible. "Not just difficult. We have no good-faith basis we would ever get a jury to unanimously convict."
The dismissal does allow the charges to be refiled, though Hastings' defense attorney said afterward that it's hard to imagine that would occur.
Johnson noted the family of 15-year-old Bobby Moore, whom Hastings fatally shot, objected to the decision to dismiss charges.
Deazzaray Perkins, Moore's older sister, blasted prosecutors for dropping the charges "when they know this man was in the wrong."
"He killed a 15-year-old child," she said in an impassioned statement to reporters by the front steps of the courthouse. "They think we're supposed to be OK with it? I'm not … That was my baby brother. It's been three years. We haven't been able to spend Christmas, New Year's, birthdays, nothing. He killed my little brother a few weeks before his birthday. It hurts."
Griffen said after accepting the motion to dismiss charges that he was obliged to do so because the prosecution had presented "good cause" for doing so. But he noted to family members still in the court that it didn't mean charges couldn't be refiled in the future.
"Nobody needs to walk out of here with a hard-and-fast idea about what the future means except that this prosecution is discontinued," he said, adding that nobody should walk out thinking that "Bobby Moore's death was not a tragedy."
"That's all I can say," Griffen said, before adjourning court.
Hastings on Aug. 12, 2012, shot Moore while investigating a report of vehicle break-ins at the Shadow Lake apartment complex in Little Rock.
Hastings says he opened fire while Moore drove a vehicle toward him, but prosecutors in the first two trials contended that the vehicle was not moving toward Hastings and that he acted recklessly in opening fire.
Hastings was fired from the force after police investigated the shooting. His attorney, Bill James, said Hastings will seek to get his job back.
"He certainly wasn't found guilty of any wrongdoing," James said. "I think the Civil Service Commission will see the same thing the jury saw, which is he did what he did in order to protect himself ... Ultimately, I think he's going to get his job back."
Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this breaking story.