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Suspect in confrontation in jail, unhurt, Union County sheriff says

by Caitlan Butler | October 20, 2021 at 3:31 a.m.

EL DORADO -- A man who had been holding a rifle and who a sheriff's deputy tried to shoot late last month was not injured and remains in jail, Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts said Tuesday.

It is the latest information released in an investigation that began Sept. 30 into an officer-involved shooting.

Last month, Roberts reported that an investigation into the shooting was underway at the Union County sheriff's office. He said on Tuesday that the sheriff's office investigation has concluded, but the Arkansas State Police are still looking into it.

The man, Sammy Wesley Cupples, 36, of El Dorado, is facing charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, first-degree terroristic threatening, possession of a firearm by certain persons, possession of a defaced firearm, fleeing and criminal trespassing. He was being held at the Union County jail in lieu of $100,000 bond on Tuesday afternoon.

Roberts said Union County deputies joined a Smackover police officer on Sept. 30 in response to a call about an unwanted person. Upon arrival, they encountered Cupples, who Roberts said had a rifle.

"He had his jacket draped over something in his hands. They were asking to see his hands," Roberts said. "Once he showed his hands -- he had a rifle -- he immediately turned and started running, ran off into the woods."

Deputies and the Smackover officer subsequently coaxed Cupples out of the woods, Roberts said, this time without the weapon. However, as the officers spoke with Cupples, one approached him, at which point Cupples is alleged to have pulled a knife.

"The deputy shot, and [Cupples] fell as if he was shot, but got back up. Another deputy tried to tase him, and then he ran off in the woods," Roberts said.

About an hour after the shooting, officers obtained security camera footage showing Cupples, who appeared to be uninjured, Roberts said. The next day, on Oct. 1, officers searched the woods where Cupples ran away and found the rifle he had in his hands at the start of his encounter with authorities, Roberts said.

"As daylight broke, we searched the area where he went into the woods, located a .22 rifle with one shell in the chamber that was jammed as if he tried to shoot it," the sheriff said.

The sheriff's office learned later that day that Cupples might be at a residence in Ouachita County. After obtaining a search warrant, law enforcement agencies including the Union county sheriff's office, Smackover police, El Dorado police and Ouachita County sheriff's office searched the home, where Cupples and four others with outstanding warrants were arrested, Roberts said.

"When we did find the young man, he was not hit. He was not shot," Roberts said. "It did look like one of the tasers maybe hit him in the back, but it didn't have any effect on him at all. Other than that, he had no marks or anything on him."

Roberts declined to release the name of the deputy who fired his gun, citing the state police's ongoing investigation.

Print Headline: Suspect in confrontation in jail, unhurt, sheriff says

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