Bay police officer fired amid state investigation into deadly accident
BAY, Ark. (KAIT8) - The Bay police officer at the center of an investigation into a fatal incident involving a side-by-side has been fired from his department.
Officer Christopher Shull was fired on November 3, as Arkansas State Police investigates his actions in the death of Stephen Kyle McMasters.
The incident occurred in October near Bay City Hall when Officer Shull reported being in pursuit of a side-by-side driven by McMasters, alleging the vehicle may have been stolen.
Shull’s attorney, Russell Wood, emphasized that Shull had followed all policies of the Bay Police Department and had previously been cleared of any wrongdoing.
According to Wood, “the suspect’s own felonious actions are the sole cause of his death,” and Shull had acted under Bay PD pursuit policies and his training.
In a statement, the McMaster family said through their attorney, Jeannette Robertson, the claims Shull’s attorney made were “abhorrent and knowingly false.”
“The family believes this use of excessive force, the ramming of the UTV by Officer Shull with his heavy unmarked police car was the cause of Stephen Kyle McMasters’ violent death” the statement said.
In his statement, Wood also pointed out that the accident scene was littered with beer cans from the suspect’s cooler. He criticized the City of Bay, stating, “It’s unfortunate that the City of Bay abandoned its officer for purely political reasons.”
The family of McMasters called the allegations by Shull’s attorney “libelous,” and refuted many of the claims.
“The family of Kyle McMasters do not believe Kyle was drunk nor driving drunk,” the family statement said. “It is not illegal to store unopened beer in a cooler in your UTV and we have no information as to how many of the beer cans at the scene, came from the cooler. The cooler and several UNOPENED beer cans were at the scene of the accident the next day on Sunday and the family of Kyle took possession of that cooler. If the information about the cooler and beer cans was relevant to the investigation why was it left at the scene?”
Bay Mayor Paul Keith offered a different perspective, stating that Shull’s services “were no longer needed.” The mayor did not comment on whether the firing was related to the ongoing ASP investigation into Schull.
Bay Police Chief Keith Milam told K8 News on November 1, that Shull did not violate policy.
Milam refrained from commenting on whether he was aware of Shull’s disciplinary history during his tenure at the Jonesboro Police Department, where he was fired in May 2022 for violating department policy.
The ASP’s criminal investigation is still underway, and the Second Judicial Prosecutor will review the case file upon completion.
The family of Stephen Kyle McMasters has sought legal counsel, disputing Shull’s claim that the side-by-side was stolen and insisting that it belonged to the family.
Full McMasters family statement:
“The family of Stephen Kyle McMasters’ finds the libelous statements made by Officer Christopher Shull, through his attorney, abhorrent and knowingly false. Officer Shull had no factual evidence the night he pursued Kyle, but he profiled Kyle because the UTV was new, it was late at night, and in Bay, Arkansas.
Listen to the audio tape released through KAIT8 where around 11:17:33 Officer Shull states to Dispatch: “I think it may be stolen, its brand new.” This statement was made by Officer Shull after he had already hit the UTV at least once, with Officer Shull’s over 5000 pound unmarked police vehicle. (See Dispatch audio tape just after 11: 17.)
The family believes this use of excessive force, the ramming of the UTV by Officer Shull with his heavy unmarked police car was the cause of Stephen Kyle McMasters’ violent death.
Officer Shull goes on in his statement to claim he was “cleared of wrongdoing”. This statement is, in the families’ opinion, patently false; but if you want to give Officer Shull the benefit of the doubt, his statement was intentionally misleading.
Officer Shull claims that “he complied with all policies of the Bay Police Department and was cleared of wrongdoing.” It is the understanding of Kyle’s family that the City of Bay ONLY decided that Officer Shull had not violated any of the current written policies of the police department. That does NOT rise to the level of the City of Bay making a finding that Officer Shull was “cleared of wrongdoing.”
The Arkansas State Police are conducting an investigation and are still evaluating the actions of Officer Shull for any wrongdoing based on its administrative rules and those same actions will again have to be evaluated by the Second Judicial District Prosecutor for an opinion on whether Officer Shull’s actions rose to a criminal act.
These evaluations are not the final authority as to whether Officer Shull’s actions violated the law because those actions can and will be reviewed in full detail by a jury of his peers in a civil lawsuit that the family of Stephen Kyle McMasters will be bringing against him in the future. Finally, the family wishes to address Officer Shull’s statement: “the accident scene was littered with beer cans from the suspects’ cooler”.
The family of Kyle McMasters do not believe Kyle was drunk nor driving drunk, based on their interaction with him that day, as he had drank no alcohol of any kind at the time he left the family’s home around 9:30 p.m. No statements were made by Officer Shull to Dispatch that Kyle was driving as if inebriated.
The only statement we have at this point in the investigation is that Officer Shull told Dispatch he thought the UTV was stolen, because it was new. It is not illegal to store unopened beer in a cooler in your UTV and we have no information as to how many of the beer cans at the scene, came from the cooler. The cooler and several UNOPENED beer cans were at the scene of the accident the next day on Sunday and the family of Kyle took possession of that cooler.
If the information about the cooler and beer cans was relevant to the investigation why was it left at the scene? The family of Stephen Kyle McMasters continues to work towards obtaining justice for Kyle and the loving family he left behind as a result of his death.”
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