ASP troopers, Mississippi County deputy justified in I-55 shootout with suspect, prosecutor says

ASP troopers, Mississippi County deputy justified in I-55 shootout with suspect, prosecutor says
(Source: Raycom Media)

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The suspect killed in July during a shootout with law enforcement on I-55 posted live videos of his trip from St. Louis to Memphis drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before the shootout happened, prosecutors said in a letter released Saturday about the case.

In the letter from Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington to Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant, Ellington said the actions of Arkansas State Police and the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office were proper in the death of James Blackmon on July 30.

"In summary, I find that Arkansas State Police Cpl. Rockey Rapert, Cpl. Brandon Bennett and Mississippi County Sheriff's Department Deputy Harrison Hughes were justified in using deadly force against James Blackmon in defense of their own lives. It is my understanding that there are still outstanding ballistic and autopsy reports, as well as other follow up reports. Until those reports are finished, this investigation remains open and my finding may be subject to change," Ellington said in the letter.

The shootout, which happened on I-55, also claimed the life of ASP K-9 officer Hemi.

Police also released dash cam video of the shootout as part of the investigation.

Of the videos, Ellington said in the letter that an Arkansas State Police Troop C Telecommunications Operator researched a Facebook account held by Blackmon.

"On July 30, 2018, Blackmon posted live videos describing his journey from St. Louis, Missouri to Memphis, Tennessee on Interstate 55. Blackmon can be seen drinking Budweiser beer and smoking what appears to be marijuana cigars in the video," Ellington said. "At some point, he turned the cell phone camera to view his speedometer, which revealed that he was traveling at 100 miles per hour during the recorded segment."

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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