Little Rock, AR – A Little Rock Police officer was charged with third-degree battery on Jan. 22, after he shot and injured a carjacker who assaulted a woman while stealing her car, and was attempting to speed off through a populated shopping area in July of 2017 (video below.)
Dashcam and store surveillance footage captured much of the incident, as well as the foot pursuit that preceded the shooting.
Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) officers responded to a report of a shoplifter at a Home Depot store at approximately 1:15 p.m. on July 19.
As officers were leading Avila out of the store, he managed to break free, and fled from police on foot with his hands cuffed behind him.
The video showed Avila as he ran past patrol cars in front of the Home Depot, and a pursuing officer noted on his radio that the suspect had slipped out of his handcuffs as they were running.
The foot pursuit continued to a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant, where Avila attacked a woman in the drive-thru line, and forced her out of her Chevrolet Malibu.
As Avila jumped into the driver’s seat of the woman’s car, LRPD Officer Ralph Breshears appeared at the passenger side window, and ordered the suspect out of the vehicle.
Avila refused, and began to drive away. That’s when Officer Breshears fired three shots.
Avila was taken into custody, and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
LRPD launched an internal investigation and determined that the officer violated the policy stating "discharging firearms at a moving or fleeing vehicle is prohibited, unless it is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious physical injury to the officer or another person."
That policy also required officers to flee from the path of moving vehicles rather than fire at a vehicle.
According to the Arkansas Times, the findings of the internal investigation were sent to the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on Oct. 20, 2017.
After the investigation, Officer Breshears, 55, retired in December of 2017. He had served with the department for 26 years.
On Monday, the LRPD said that the Pulaski County prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for the retired officer.
An arrest affidavit claimed that Officer Breshears was “at no point ... in any danger of being run over by the vehicle,” and that he placed the female victim “in harm’s way” when he fired at the fleeing suspect, the Arkansas Times reported.
Officer Breshears was booked into jail on the warrant, and released on bond, KTHV reported.
Avila was initially charged with criminal attempt to commit capital murder, but that charge was dropped when the case was moved from Little Rock District Court to Pulaski County Circuit Court on Jan. 9, KATV reported.
He still faces charges of robbery, fleeing, third-degree escape, and theft of property. Avila was also being held on an unrelated habitual offender case involving residential burglary and theft of property.
Watch dashcam and surveillance video of the incident below: