Prosecutor: Officer "justified" in Blytheville shooting

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A prosecutor says a Blytheville police officer was "justified" in a May shooting that left one man dead.

In a letter to Arkansas State Police, Prosecutor Scott Ellington said the officer was "justified in using deadly force" in the death of Terrance Dawson of Blytheville. The prosecutor also said no criminal charges will be filed.

Witnesses stated Dawson had argued with his girlfriend on the morning of May 18, hit her in the face and forced her to walk to his mother's home at knife point. Police were then contacted and responded to a possible hostage situation in the 400 block of South 1st Street.

Before reaching the mother's home, two officers made contact with Dawson and the woman. Officers said as they approached the couple, Dawson put the woman "into a choke hold and placed a knife to her throat".

Ellington stated officers then tried to diffuse the situation. One officer drew his weapon, but did not point it at Dawson. The second officer was unable to assist the first because of another disturbance in the yard of the home.

Dawson, according to the letter, yelled "I'm going to cut her! I've got a knife to her throat, I'm not going back!". The first officer then followed the pair into Dawson's mother's home.

Dawson's mother attempted to talk her son into giving her the knife. The officer used the distraction to grab the hand holding the knife. As the officer did this he fired one shot into Dawson's abdomen, according to Ellington.

A fight then happened where Dawson tried to take the officer down while the policeman was still holding the hand that held the knife.

Ellington said the officer fired six more shots from his gun and then performed CPR on Dawson until an ambulance arrived.

An autopsy report revealed Dawson sustained five gunshot wounds, including one shot to the chest. The medical examiner said the wounds appeared to be "defensive in nature", according to Ellington's letter.

Ellington stated a toxicology report showed Dawson had cocaine in his system, which the prosecutor said might have explained his unusual behavior.

The file will be returned to Arkansas State Police with no further review from the prosecutor's office.

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