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3 northeast Arkansas police officers cleared in fatal standoff

by Stephen Simpson | December 18, 2018 at 6:41 p.m.

Three officers with the Jonesboro Police Department have been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection to a fatal shooting that occurred earlier this month when a suspect wounded a police K-9 during a standoff.

Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington announced Tuesday that the actions of three of the department’s SWAT officers during an officer-involved shooting in Jonesboro were justified.

SWAT officers Jason Chester, Josh Landreth and Nathan Ivy responded to the Gladiolus Apartment Complex on Dec. 11 after a report that Brenda Thomas, 56, of Jonesboro had shot Dennis Mardis, 41, Ellington wrote in a letter to the Arkansas State Police.

Negotiators responded to the scene, but were unsuccessful in attempts to communicate with Thomas or get her to leave the residence, according to the letter.

Via a remote camera, officers saw that Thomas was armed and in the bathroom of the apartment, Ellington wrote. Police deployed gas into the residence and the camera showed that it “was having no effect on Thomas,” according to the letter. Next, the SWAT team set off flash bangs, which also had no effect, the prosecutor said.

Ellington said that after four hours of failed negotiations, police sent K-9 officer Gabo into the residence, but Thomas shot the dog. The dog’s handler began to retrieve the animal from the apartment as officers Chester, Landreth and Ivy entered the residence.

“Chester and Landreth made direct contact with Thomas, who raised her firearm up and pointed it in the direction of the two,” Ellington said. “Both Chester and Landreth fired their service weapons as did Ivy who was providing cover for Chester and Landreth. Thomas was struck three times by JPD gunfire and succumbed to her wounds a short time later at an area hospital.”

Ellington said police exhausted every means at their disposal to end the standoff peacefully and the officers’ use of deadly force was necessary to defend themselves.

The case remains open, pending the examination of evidence from the Crime Lab.

The injured police dog was treated by a veterinarian and released Friday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.

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