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Charges against Hastings dismissed before third trial

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 7, 2014 at 7:53 a.m. Updated April 7, 2014 at 11:10 a.m.

file-former-little-rock-police-officer-josh-hastings-waves-to-some-little-rock-police-officers-as-he-is-escorted-out-of-the-pulaski-county-courthouse-after-his-manslaughter-trial-ended-in-a-2nd-mistrial-on-sept-24-2013-in-little-rock

FILE — Former Little Rock police officer Josh Hastings waves to some Little Rock Police officers as he is escorted out of the Pulaski County Courthouse after his manslaughter trial ended in a 2nd mistrial on Sept. 24, 2013 in Little Rock.

Charges dropped before Hastings' third trial

Weeks before a third trial scheduled in the manslaughter case against former Little Rock officer Josh Hastings, prosecutors moved to dismiss charges. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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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.

Comments on: Charges against Hastings dismissed before third trial

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JuanCarlosEspinoza says... April 7, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.

Awesome! Hope this young man can find his way back to a normal life. Thanks for your service!

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rbb72802 says... April 7, 2014 at 10:32 a.m.

Outstanding! Just doing his job.

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StrayGoose70 says... April 7, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.

Finally, Wendell Griffen won't have another bully pulpit to attempt to railroad a defendant based upon his race. Also, this is what happens when prosecutors are under politically correct pressure in the Peoples Republic of Little Rock...bad decisions...of course, this further opens the possibility of Officer Hastings prevailing in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

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HarleyOwner says... April 7, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.

Little Rock needs to give the man his job back.

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snapper1 says... April 7, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.

Amen sir sure hope you get your job back

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punk47 says... April 7, 2014 at 11:02 a.m.

Job back with pay and a no back bone chief made to retire.

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2531USMC says... April 7, 2014 at 11:10 a.m.

While I agree that dismissing the charges after two mistrials was the right thing to do, I think it is important that we all remember that this officer has had some serious disciplinary issues which need to be considered before people jump to the conclusion he should be reinstated as a police officer. There are two very serious write ups. The incident in which he left his assigned downtown patrol area without permission, and proceeded to drive at a extremely high rate of speed from downtown so he could join in on a pursuit the State Police were engaged in on I-430. During this period of time there was another officer in need of back up in his patrol area, which he was dispatched to. After receiving the call he proceeded to head back from west Little Rock and drive down I-630 at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour in an attempt to respond to his fellow officers’ need of help. When he arrived and the other officer asked him what took him so long he lied to them. The second write up occurred when his supervisor drove up on his patrol unit and found him asleep. In military speak these would be Court Marshall offences; sleeping on post, and leaving ones post without permission, both are very serious offences. Both of these incidents were reported in this paper after his termination from the force.

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Jfish says... April 7, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.

Well said USMC.

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GiveUsLiberty says... April 7, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.

Excellent news! I am glad that Judge Griffin dismissed the charges and agree that there was not any way to get a unanimous verdict. As to his other issues, let's hope this ordeal will serve as a wake-up call. While the two incidents that 2531USMC describes are very serious, Mr. Hastings is young and capable of learning from these experiences. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

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Packman says... April 7, 2014 at 1:02 p.m.

@Deazzaray - Condolences to you and your family on the loss of a loved one. But let's be real, Dez. Had your kid brother not been committing a very serious crime at the time of the incident this would have never happened. And this wasn't the first time your little brother chose to commit serious crimes that we pay police officers like Mr. Hastings to prevent and/or apprehend the perps. Your little brother didn't deserve to die. But he did because he chose to engage in criminal behavior. Sad but true. Is it safe to assume he didn't get the nickname "weedy" because he liked to pull weeds from the garden?

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