Man charged with attempted capital murder after incident in which he was shot by Fort Smith police

Michael Lee Fairburn

FORT SMITH -- The Arkansas State Police on Tuesday charged Michael Lee Fairburn with attempted capital murder and first-degree attempted battery on a law enforcement officer in connection with an officer-involved shooting Oct. 25.

Fairburn, 61, was also charged with possession of drugs (methamphetamine), possession of drug paraphernalia, simultaneous possession of drugs and weapon, and habitual offender violations. He was released from UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock, where he had been receiving medical care, to the custody of the Sebastian County sheriff's office, according to a news release from the state police.

Fort Smith police officers on Oct. 25 attempted to serve a felony warrant on Fairburn, an Indiana fugitive and violent sex offender. Fairburn brandished a knife as officers tried to take him into custody, and officers shot him, the release said.

Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue, in a Nov. 8 letter, said his office reviewed the incident and found Fort Smith police officers Tucker Romesburg and Caleb Jenkins were justified under state law in shooting Fairburn.

Shue said the incident began in a wooded area across from Shamrock Liquor on Midland Boulevard when Romesburg, Jenkins and another officer, Arthur Lewis, were trying to serve Fairburn a felony warrant out of Indiana. Fairburn threatened to kill the officers, brandished a knife and aggressively moved toward them, authorities said. Romesburg told Fairburn to drop the knife and get on the ground, but Fairburn fled across Midland Boulevard toward the liquor store.

Lewis unsuccessfully tried to use a stun gun on Fairburn, who proceeded to throw a knife that hit Lewis in his inner right thigh, according to Shue. Fairburn was holding a second knife in his other hand when Romesburg and Jenkins shot him, authorities said.

Shue said the officers then called for emergency medical services. Romesburg applied tourniquets to both of Fairburn's legs to control his bleeding. Fairburn was taken to an area hospital before being taken to UAMS.

Lewis said during an interview with state police he encountered Fairburn the night before the incident, according to Shue. Fairburn ended up fleeing from Lewis, who seized a BB air rifle from the area of the encounter, along with several knives that were reportedly stuck in a piece of wood. Lewis said it appeared Fairburn had been throwing the knives at the wood.

An investigation by the state police was ongoing. In accordance with Fort Smith police protocols, officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a separate internal investigation.