Prosecutor: Officers 'justified in using lethal force'

Prosecutor: Officers 'justified in using lethal force'
Brandon Johnson (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)
Brandon Johnson (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)
Jessica Rae Coleman (Cook) (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)
Jessica Rae Coleman (Cook) (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Four law enforcement officers in Craighead County were "justified in using lethal force" in regards to the shooting of a drug suspect. The suspect, Brandon Johnson, was treated at a local hospital for a gunshot wound to his arm.

In a letter sent to Lt. Brant Tosh with Arkansas State Police, Second Judicial Prosecutor Scott Ellington detailed the events of Friday, Jan. 9.

That afternoon, Jonesboro officers Roy Coleman, Rick Guimond, and Mike Brumfield and Deputy Charles Garr fired shots at Johnson, who police said tried to run over officers as they attempted to serve a warrant.

Ellington, in his letter, said Johnson was in the process of delivering methamphetamine when officers approached his vehicle. The officers, wearing tactical vests with the word 'police' clearly visible, announced themselves as officers when Johnson realized he was blocked in the driveway before he "attempted to move forward at a high rate of speed".

Ellington stated that each officer who fired a shot thought another officer was in the path of Johnson's vehicle.

"Johnson was suspected to have been the individual who narrowly missed hitting and injuring a JPD officer a few weeks earlier," Ellington's letter stated.

State law "allows the use of deadly force if an officer reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use - or imminent use - of deadly force."

Ellington's office allowed the officers to go back to work after his preliminary finding.

Johnson, 29, of Osceola was charged with aggravated assault, fleeing in a vehicle, and possession of meth or cocaine with purpose to deliver after his arrest.

Johnson "led police on a lengthy vehicle pursuit before eventually being taken into custody," court documents read.

After Johnson was shot by officers, he was taken to a Jonesboro hospital. On Monday, Jan. 12, police said Johnson walked out of the hospital "against doctor's orders" before police could serve him with a warrant.

According to court documents, Johnson pulled into a residence in the 400 block of Johnson Avenue on Jan. 9th. As he pulled into the driveway, officers approached his vehicle. When Johnson pulled into the driveway, an unmarked police officer's vehicle pulled behind him.

Police said they demanded Johnson show his hands as they identified themselves as officers.

Johnson then accelerated and attempted to hit officers with the vehicle, the affidavit stated. A previous news release stated the officers shot at Johnson in self-defense.

Police said they found 45 grams of meth and seven tablets of suspected alprazolam in the vehicle and on Johnson. They also claim to have found more than $7,000 with him.

When he was interviewed at the hospital, Johnson denied knowing the men in the driveway were police officers and denied trying to run over them.

A Jonesboro woman was also charged with hindering the apprehension of Johnson. Jessica Rae Coleman (Cook) was arrested for helping Johnson evade police after he left the hospital, records indicated.

Coleman was with Johnson when he was arrested following the police pursuit.

"Coleman confirmed that she was aware he was wanted by authorities yet still agreed to assist him with both concealing him and providing him transportation out of Jonesboro in an obvious attempt to escape apprehension", the affidavit stated.

Johnson and Coleman will appear in court in February.

To read Ellington's letter to Arkansas State Police, click here.

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