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FORT SMITH -- A police officer who shot and killed a man with a knife threatening to kill a woman was justified in using deadly force to stop him, the Sebastian County prosecuting attorney said Friday.

Daniel Shue wrote his conclusion in a nine-page report on the Oct. 13 police shooting to Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark.

In it, officer Dylan Gray said in a summary of his statement that Samuel Morris was sitting on a couch in a Fort Smith apartment holding Linda Carapia on his lap with a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her as she fought and screamed for help.

Gray told Morris to let Carapia go or he would shoot. Morris was jabbing Carapia with the knife as he continued to threaten to kill her, the report said.

Gray yelled for Carapia to move. Gray said when she slid a little way off Morris' lap, Morris brought the knife back like he was going to stab her again. Gray fired at Morris eight times, the report said.

Morris' girlfriend, Desiree Gaynor, told police she thought Morris did not want to kill himself so he used the police to do it, according to the report. Gaynor said Morris talked about death and had a warrant against him but said he would rather die than go to jail.

The report said Morris' mother filed a petition for involuntary commitment of a person with a mental illness against her son May 7. She said in the petition her son was violent and was threatening suicide and threatening to hurt and kill others.

An autopsy showed Morris had methamphetamine and cannabis in his system, the report said.

Shue wrote in the report that Gray believed Morris was committing several crimes and was about to use deadly force against Carapia. He wrote that officers are trained in techniques to de-escalate potentially lethal situations, but that Gray had seconds to decide what to do as Morris held the knife to Carapia's throat.

"In this scenario, I could just as easily be writing a letter to Ms. Carapia's family regarding her homicide as I am trying to evaluate the use of force by an officer against one of our citizens," Shue wrote.

The report said Chantelle Norwood of 5221 Johnson St., Apartment 25, allowed Carapia, Morris and Fabian Osborn to stay in her apartment Oct. 13. Morris left at one point but returned, went into Norwood's bedroom and threatened to rob and stab her with his knife.

Morris wounded Norwood with the knife, but she and Osborn were able to nearly get Morris out of the apartment when he forced his way back in, the report said.

Norwood and Osborn ran from the apartment, leaving Morris alone with Carapia.

Neighbors called police, and Gray, along with officers Krista Harrison and Alex Meza, responded to the apartments, according to the report.

According to the report, Carapia said Morris told her to call Gaynor but Gaynor kept hanging up, prompting Morris to threaten and stab at Carapia.

The final time Carapia called, the call went to voice mail and recorded the officers yelling for Morris to let Carapia go, Carapia's screams and finally the sound of the eight shots that killed Morris.

State Desk on 03/16/2019

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