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Jury finds ex-Little Rock police officer liable in shooting death of teen suspect

by Brandon Riddle, Emma Pettit | April 13, 2017 at 10:05 a.m. | Updated April 13, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.
Former Little Rock police officer Josh Hastings (left) and his father, retired Little Rock police Capt. Terry Hastings, enter the federal courthouse in Little Rock on Wednesday during jury deliberations in his wrongful-death civil trial.

UPDATE:

A jury in the civil trial of a former Little Rock Police Department officer who fatally shot a teen suspect has found him liable for the death and ordered him to pay $415,000.

Josh Hastings fatally shot 15-year-old Bobby Moore III Aug. 12, 2012. Hastings fired multiple shots at Moore while the teen was driving a Honda Civic as Hastings investigated car break-ins at the Shadow Lake Apartments, 13111 W. Markham St.

Hastings was fired from the force and criminally charged after the shooting, though two separate trials ended in hung juries.

The jury in the civil case, which had earlier indicated it wasn't able to agree on a verdict, returned to the courtroom with the unanimous decision at 3:15 p.m.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

UPDATE:

After reviewing security camera footage, a judge said Thursday there was no improper contact between a juror and the defendant in the civil trial of former Little Rock police officer who fatally shot a teen burglary suspect.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller is presiding over the civil suit against Josh Hastings, who fatally shot 15-year-old Bobby Moore III Aug. 12, 2012. Hastings fired multiple shots at Moore while the teen was driving a Honda Civic as Hastings investigated car break-ins at the Shadow Lake Apartments, 13111 W. Markham St.

The 11-member jury reconvened at 9 a.m. Thursday after they could not reach a unanimous verdict Wednesday night. Before the jury entered the courtroom, the lawyer representing Moore’s family, Michael Laux, told Miller he had heard a claim from his clients about possible juror misconduct.

After court adjourned on Friday evening, Deazzaray Perkins and another family member were outside the federal courthouse when they saw one of the jurors come out and then go back inside to speak with some of the guards, Laux told the judge. Then, Josh Hastings and a man Perkins believed to be his father, Terry Hastings, exited the courthouse with that juror following “inches” behind them, Laux said.

The father and son spoke to one another while the juror followed, head down, the family members told Laux. The trio crossed the street going south. Then, as Perkins’ family tried to take a picture, they dispersed and the juror left in a vehicle, Laux said.

Miller then left the courtroom to review security footage with the lawyers. He later returned and told the courtroom what the women said they saw, from the outside of the building, was mostly correct. The juror did go back inside the courthouse, then exit again behind Josh Hastings, who was accompanied not by his father, but by his father-in-law, Miller said. At some point, the parties parted ways.

However, after reviewing three different shots from inside the courthouse, Miller said neither Josh Hastings nor his father-in-law attempted to make any contact with the juror.

The tape shows the juror sitting on a bench in the atrium near the exit, Miller said. Meanwhile, Josh Hastings stood about 15 feet away and appeared to be waiting for his father-in-law. After a short time, both men exited, and the juror followed a couple steps behind, Miller said.

Hastings and his father-in-law never spoke to or looked at the juror, Miller said. He said he appreciated Moore’s family bringing the incident to his attention because even the “appearance” of unfairness is worth investigating.

“We had a chance to look at it. We had a chance to determine there was nothing to it,” the judge said.

Miller also told the courtroom the jury had requested a TV or DVD player, and he decided to send one back to view evidence that had already been submitted.

As of 11:10 a.m., the jury had not reached a verdict. Miller told the jurors before they reconvened if they don’t reach a consensus, the case will have to be retried.

Miller told the courtroom he did not expect the trial to go on this long and that he has an obligation at 5:30 p.m. He asked both the defense and the plaintiffs if they objected to subbing in another judge to read the verdict, if one is handed down. Neither side objected.

EARLIER:

The judge presiding over a lawsuit against a former Little Rock police officer who fatally shot a teenage burglary suspect plans to review security camera footage Thursday morning to investigate a claim of possible juror misconduct.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller is presiding over the civil suit against Josh Hastings, who fatally shot 15-year-old Bobby Moore III Aug. 12, 2012. Hastings fired multiple shots at Moore while the teen was driving a Honda Civic as Hastings investigated car break-ins at the Shadow Lake Apartments, 13111 W. Markham St.

The 11-member jury in the trial deliberated for more than 9 hours Wednesday to decide whether Hastings, 31, used excessive force when he shot and killed Moore and whether a reasonable officer would have done the same. Sylvia Perkins, Moore’s mother, filed the wrongful-death suit.

Around 10 p.m., the jury told the judge they could not reach a unanimous verdict. Miller sent them home, telling them to sleep on it and return at 9 a.m.

Before the jury reconvened Thursday morning, the lawyer representing Perkins, Michael Laux, told Miller he had heard about the “possibility of juror misconduct” from one of Moore’s family members.

After court adjourned Friday, Deazzaray Perkins said she and another family member were outside the federal courthouse when they saw one of the jurors come out, linger and then go back inside to speak with some of the guards, Laux told the judge. Then, Josh Hastings and his father, Terry Hastings, exited the courthouse with that juror following “inches” behind them, Laux said.

The father and son spoke to one another while the juror followed, head down, the family members told Laux. The trio crossed the street going south. Then, as Perkins’ family tried to take a picture, they dispersed and the juror got into a brown or tan truck, Laux said.

Neither the juror’s name nor identifying details were mentioned in the courtroom.

Laux told Miller that no lawyers on the defense team witnessed the incident and cannot speak to its veracity or falsehood. Laux said he was bringing it to the judge’s attention because he recently learned of the incident and felt it was his duty to tell the court.

Miller described his thought process to the lawyers in the courtroom, saying, “At this point, what do you do?” The jury has already met for 10 hours, he said, and there’s no telling what affect this juror might have had.

Miller also said there could be numerous mitigating circumstances — like the juror losing his or her cellphone — that could explain the incident. The judge decided that “if there’s video of it, we can see what it looks like” and then “deal with it” from there.

He asked a courtroom official to retrieve security footage from the federal courthouse.

Laux told the court he’s “not looking to milk something that’s not there.”

In response, Miller said, “Let’s just look at the tape.” Miller said if the events that the Perkins family described actually took place as like they said, he would likely declare a mistrial.

While Laux was speaking, Josh Hastings turned aftround to shush his visibly-upset family members, telling them to “stop it.”

After making a decision, Miller ushered the jury back into the courtroom. He did not tell them about the possible misconduct and instructed them to reconvene and try again to reach a verdict.

As a juror, you must “be willing to reexamine your own view and change your mind,” he said.

If a verdict cannot be reached, the case will have to be tried again, Miller said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of attorney Michael Laux.

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