West Memphis Mayor Rejects Firing Police Officers

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson has rejected a proposal calling for the firing of several police officers after the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy this summer.

Johnson says he based his decision on the fact that an internal investigation and one by the Arkansas State Police cleared officers Erik Sammis and Jimmy Evans of any wrongdoing in the death of DeAuntae Farrow.  The West Memphis City Council had passed a resolution calling for their outster, as well as Chief Bob Paudert.  The chief says there were no grounds to fire the officers.

Sammis, a white officer, shot Farrow, a black child, near an apartment complex on June 22.  A state police investigation concluded Sammis shot the boy because he was holding a toy gun that appeared real.  But Farrow's family says the boy held a bag of chips and a soda at the time of the shooting.

The shooting death sparked claims of racism in West Memphis.  While a special prosecutor declined to impanel a criminal grand jury over the shooting, a local judge asked for a civil grand jury investigation into Farrow's death.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the judge's request as it reviews a prosecutor's objection that it would cause irreparable harm.

The council's resolution passed in a 6-4 vote along racial lines.  City Councilwoman Lorraine Robinson says there will be no override of the mayor's decision.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)