Gov. Mike Beebe has ordered Arkansas flags to be flown at half-staff Saturday in honor of Lafayette County Chief Deputy Pete Richardson, who was killed Monday while driving a hitchhiker to a homeless shelter.
A 30-year-old homeless man, Michel Lee Ackart of Tulsa, has been charged with second-degree murder in Richardson's death. Authorities said that while Richardson, 50, was taking Ackart to Texarkana, Ackhart grabbed the steering wheel of Richardson’s vehicle, which was traveling west on U.S. 82 about 4 miles west of Lewisville, and the move caused the vehicle to swerve into the eastbound lane and strike a passenger vehicle and tractor-trailer rig.
Prosecutors say Richardson, who lived in Taylor, was performing a good deed when he died.
"Chief Deputy Richardson exemplified the finest traits of Arkansas’s law-enforcement community: loyalty, bravery and a selfless devotion to duty," Beebe's proclamation says. "He was also a devoted friend to those who served with him; a family man who was actively involved in his community" and was running for sheriff in the November elections, Beebe added.
Richardson was a graduate of Mineral Springs High School; a former U.S. airman; and a Lafayette County deputy since 1995, according to Beebe's proclamation.
Richardson leaves behind a wife, Melanie; three children; a mother; four siblings; and five grandchildren, the governor said.