Police: Slain North Little Rock bail bondsman under indictment on drug trafficking charges

Victim’s U.S. drug trial set for Oct. 2

A bail bondsman under federal indictment on drug trafficking charges was found shot to death Friday morning in North Little Rock, police said.

Officers were called at 3:38 a.m. to the 4800 block of Ira Street, where they found Damian O'Neal Mitchell, 36, lying in the street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Circumstances of the killing were unclear.

Department spokesman Carmen Helton said detectives were interviewing witnesses, but she did not have more information. No arrests had been made late Friday.

[HOMICIDE MAP: Interactive map of killings in Little Rock, North Little Rock this year]

Mitchell had been scheduled to go to trial Oct. 2 in U.S. District Court on accusations that he was involved in a drug ring in central Arkansas.

He was among nine people named in an 18-count federal indictment unsealed in December 2015. Mitchell was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, along with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported that it seized 15 guns and more than $102,958 from residences connected to the drug operation in Pulaski and Lonoke counties.

Mitchell pleaded innocent in the case last month.

North Little Rock attorney John Jeffery Wankum, who represented Mitchell, said Friday that he'd seen reports of his client's death.

"It's very unfortunate for him and his family," Wankum said.

A spokesman for acting U.S. Attorney Patrick Harris said he had no comment on Mitchell's death.

Police found Mitchell dead about a block from his home at 4723 Ira St., north of Broadway on the city's east side.

Mitchell's neighbor, Mark Robinson, said there was a "commotion" in the area and then a single gunshot. Robinson, 41, said he saw a man who appeared to be lying down near train tracks across the street.

"He didn't move," Robinson said. "He just stayed in the same position."

Robinson said he called 911 and waited for police. When authorities showed him a photo of the man, he realized it was Mitchell.

Robinson said Mitchell was a longtime acquaintance who once bailed him out of jail.

Court records show Mitchell had been a bail bondsman since 2000. His company, Mitchell's Bail Bonds Inc., employs 10 people in Arkansas and Texas.

One of his employees, Christy Hudson, said Friday that Mitchell was a motivated man who liked talking to friends and cooking out with family members. She said Mitchell had a full heart for his mother and son.

Hudson said she didn't know Mitchell to have any enemies. She said his death had left her and others in disbelief.


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"He's just one of those people where once you met him, you knew him," Hudson said.

Metro on 07/29/2017

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