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Central Arkansas police chief clears officers in deadly shooting of burglary suspect

by Youssef Rddad | July 2, 2019 at 4:59 p.m.

Two police officers who fatally shot a man as he drove at them in a truck were justified because they "feared for their lives" and fired in self-defense, a central Arkansas police chief said Tuesday.

Jacksonville Police Chief John Franklin said the officers responded to a break-in at the Crain Ford on June 13 and found 22-year-old Tramon Savage trying to leave the building in a Ford F-250.

Franklin said the officers repeatedly told Savage to stop the truck and get out. Savage drove at the officers and they began firing "a barrage of bullets" into the truck, he said.

The gunfire struck Savage, and the truck crashed into a wall, the chief said.

Savage died after being brought to a hospital.

The officers "feared for their lives," and an internal review found they violated no internal rules or policies, Franklin said.

Franklin extended his condolences to Savage's family, saying that he wasn't entirely pleased with the shooting.

"It's tragic any time we lose a life out here in the investigation of a burglary or the theft of an auto," he said. "But basically, under the circumstances ... they fired in defense of each other."

Asked about the deadly Little Rock police shooting of 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire, Franklin said in an afternoon news conference that he doesn't see similarities between that and the latest shooting.

"Unfortunately, that officer made the decision to step in front of the path of that vehicle," Franklin said, adding: "My officers didn't make that decision."

Little Rock officer Charles Starks, who shot at least 15 times into Blackshire's car, was fired nearly two weeks after prosecutors cleared him of any criminal charges.

Franklin said he plans to address officer training but didn't specify what that would include.

Jacksonville police also forwarded its findings to the Pulaski County prosecutor's office to review if any criminal charges are warranted.

Franklin said the officers will remain on paid administrative leave, pending the office's decision.

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