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Deadly officer-involved shooting in northeast Arkansas ruled justified

by Clara Turnage | January 18, 2019 at 2:50 p.m.

An officer was justified in fatally shooting a man in late December in Rector, a prosecuting attorney said earlier this week.

According to a letter Scott Ellington, Second Judicial District prosecuting attorney in Jonesboro, sent to the Arkansas State Police Colonel Bill Bryant Monday, a Rector Police Department officer was justified in shooting 21-year-old Gary C. Warbritton on Dec. 26, 2018.

The letter said Rector officers responded to a report of a man brandishing a firearm at 3:46 p.m. on South Main Street and found Warbritton, who pointed a weapon toward one of the responding officers. Officers "immediately" fired four shots toward Warbritton, but all four bullets missed the man, the letter states.

Warbritton reportedly walked around for several minutes and yelled at officers before walking toward another officer and pointing the gun toward him, according to the letter.

The officer then fired one shot under Warbritton's right arm, Ellington said. Warbritton fell to the ground and pointed his weapon toward police again, but the officer put the man in handcuffs and called an ambulance, the letter states.

The 21-year-old died from his injuries.

Ellington said his preliminary findings indicated that the officers had reason to believe their lives were in danger, making the shooting justified, but the case remains open until the conclusion of autopsy and ballistic reports.

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