According to an official memo sent from Police Chief Uless Wallace's office, a Helena-West Helena police officer "had an accidental discharge of his weapon while being pulled to the ground by [a] prisoner."
A bullet struck Sandy Williams in his right arm during an altercation following an escape attempt. A recent investigation by the H-WHPD noted that on Nov. 28at 7:50pm, Officer Aresino Jefferson released a prisoner from the holding cell to let him use the restroom. According to the memo, "As Officer Jefferson took the prisoner out of the cell, there was a memo policy that was not performed...that [when] any officer in the patrol division takes a [prisoner in custody] out of the cell for anything at all, the officer will handcuff the prisoner behind the back before they get the prisoner out of the cell."
After using the restroom, Jefferson told Williams several times to get back in his cell, but the prisoner refused and "took off running down the hall toward the door." The Memo continued, "Officer [Jefferson] caught up with the prisoner and grabbed the back of his shirt. The prisoner turned and faced officer Jefferson striking at the officer's arms... Jefferson grabbed the prisoner around the neck area and slammed the prisoner up against the lockers in the hallway."
As the altercation continued, Williams wrestled his shirt off and escaped through the door with Jefferson in pursuit. The chase ended in an open field behind Sibley's Hardware store on Plaza Street. The investigation noted that it was there that a struggle occurred.
As Jefferson caught up with the escaped prisoner and attempted to "take him to the ground", the memo states that Williams grabbed the officer's weapon from his holster. It was then that Jefferson "saw his wife and daughter flash in front of his eyes...he thought 'this guy is going to kill me'!" As the officer "struck the prisoner with all of his might across the jaw area,” Williams "fell to the ground as Officer Jefferson gained back possession of his duty weapon." As the policeman was re-holstering his weapon, Williams grabbed at him and as Jefferson was pulled to the ground, the report states, "his finger went into the trigger area and shot the prisoner in the right arm area."
Williams is being charged with a felony charge of aggravated robbery, fleeing, resisting arrest, and second-degree escape.
The investigation concluded, "Disciplinary actions have already been taken toward Officer Jefferson for violating the Helena-West Helena Police patrol division memo about handcuffing prisoners in custody. All evidence will be sent to the Arkansas crime lab for testing and return results."