Prosecutor releases dashcam video of fatal officer-involved shooting, law professor weighs in

Prosecutor releases dashcam video of fatal officer-involved shooting, law professor weighs in

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Exactly two weeks after an officer-involved shooting that left a Jonesboro man dead, prosecutors have released dashcam video of that fateful night.

Christopher Grant Finley, 31, was shot and killed Tuesday, April 14, at his home in the 900-block of Walnut Street.

We get our first look at what happened through dashcam video from a JPD cruiser staged blocks away. The video starts at 11:40 pm.

At the very beginning of the video, before the car takes off, an officer is heard via the car's radio saying, "Go, go, go."

Later, the officer driving the patrol car is heard in dashcam video stating that he was staged blocks away, waiting for command from Patrolman First Class Heath Loggains to assist.

"Heath said go, that's where I ended up," the officer said, responding to another officer's question. "I was staged several blocks back."

It was a scene that had been building for hours.

Police were called there several hours earlier regarding a disturbance. Finley was reportedly armed with a baseball bat and screaming in the front yard.

According to a news release from the Jonesboro Police Department, Finley had been inside his home for three hours at this point.

Jonesboro police say Finley then emerged from the home. That's when Officer Loggains confronted him and the staged patrol car takes off, activating the dashcam video.

From the moment the patrol car drove to the scene to the moment the shooting happened, less than a minute passes.

Though you cannot see the shooting, you can hear Officer Loggains tell Finley to "get on the ground."

Seconds later, Officer Loggains yells out, then fires.

"Dispatch, shots fired, shots fired," Officer Loggains said.

At this point, Officer Loggains and other officers are in view of the dashcam video, seen backing away from the home.

"Fall back, somebody get around the back of the house!" Officer Loggains said.

In the moments after the shooting, Officer Loggains relayed to dispatch what caused him to yell.

"Dispatch, as I was trying to get in the door, he forced the door and swung at me," Loggains said.

According to the report from JPD, Officer Loggains is referring to Finley hitting him with a machete.

Officers then began talking about getting the Jonesboro SWAT team on site.

"We're gonna need to do a call out to get inside the house," Officer Loggains said. "I don't know if I hit him or not but he was right on the other side of the door whenever I started shooting."

Later in the video, other officers can be heard recounting what they saw.

"He stepped outside. Heath, he took off after him. He ran back in the house," the officer said. "And uh, I guess he tried to push in and he threw a sword at him or something."

For Steve Mulroy, a Mid-South law professor, the moments leading up to the shooting, though not seen on camera, are crucial.

"If that's what happened, that would be the kind of thing that would ordinarily be considered to be something which might justify the use of deadly force," Mulroy said.

From a legal perspective, Mulroy said the standard in these situations hinges on if the officers felt they were about to be met with serious bodily injury or deadly force.

"Either it was unjustified or something very, very startling happened very, very quickly," Mulroy said. "In this case, an attack with a machete would seem to qualify."

However, after reviewing the video, Mulroy said it likely won't help or hurt either side.

"Because it's impossible to tell what was happening off-camera at the very beginning of the video," Mulroy said.

However, he said if a civil lawsuit is filed, questions of necessity will likely be raised.

"The question lingers, if they had been more patient, would that person be alive today," Mulroy said. "Whether they could have waited him out, talk him down before the necessity of deadly force arose."

It wasn't until 1:38 a.m. that police realized Officer Loggains' shots had killed Finley.

After evacuating neighbors from their homes, SWAT members surrounded Finely's home.

In the audio from the dashcam video, you can hear the team discussing the layout of Finley's home.

"Blue team go in and shield up," the commander is heard saying.

SWAT team members then walk up to the front door, appear to look through an open window and retreat back to the side of the home.

Roughly two minutes later, the SWAT team confers with the commander about what they saw.

"Is he in the floor or is he up on the couch? What do you advise?" the commander asked.

"Knocked over, no head moving, no chest moving."

"Go ahead and call out to him" the commander advises.

SWAT members call out. No one answers.

At 1:37 a.m. SWAT team members approach the door again.

This time, they use a battering ram to force the front door open, then use their weight to completely open the door.

Once inside, officers are heard saying, "Suspect is down. Clearing the rest of the residence."

Officer Loggains is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Arkansas State Police turned over their findings to prosecutors. Prosecutors have asked state police to conduct more interviews though.

Region 8 News reached out to Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott for comment on the story.

As the investigation is ongoing, Chief Elliott was unable to comment.

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