Two Pine Bluff Police Department detectives are back on duty after Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter ruled that the firing of their weapons at an individual was justified. Officers Jarrell Johnson and Kevin Kirk, who are vice and narcotics detectives, had been on administrative leave with pay following the March 28 incident. Hunter said charges of aggravated assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm will be filed against John Boston Jr., 42, who was driving a silver Cadillac that the officers had stopped in the area of West 13th Avenue and Fir Street.


In a letter to Interim Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield, Hunter said, “the officers were reasonable in believing that Boston was attempting to use deadly physical force against Officer Johnson when Boston grabbed a handgun and raised it toward Officer Johnson after being told to keep his hands on the steering wheel of the car.”


Details about the officers discharging their weapons were not included in documents received by the Commercial. Hunter’s decision came after an investigation by the Arkansas State Police, which Hunter had requested a short time after the incident.


Officers Rick Bunting and Nathan Smith were among the officers who responded to the report of “shots fired” during the incident. Bunting said in a report that he saw a newer model silver Cadillac heading westbound turn off 13th Avenue and drive southbound at a high rate of speed toward his police vehicle. Bunting said he turned around and tried to catch the car when he saw it turn back west on 16th Avenue, still traveling at a high rate of speed.


Smith said in a report that he heard radio traffic that indicated the suspect vehicle was on 13th Avenue heading toward Blake Street, and he parked his car at the intersection to try and stop traffic for the chase. While there, he said other officers reported that the car was on 16th Avenue, possibly headed toward Miramar Drive. While searching the area, they found the unoccupied Cadillac down in a ditch at 17th Avenue and Arlington Street. An attempt to locate the driver was unsuccessful. As officers were processing the vehicle, a woman who said the car was hers arrived and told police that Boston, who was her fiancee, had been driving the vehicle.


Wednesday, Whitfield said he had spoken to Boston’s relatives and said Boston was supposed to have turned himself in, but to date, had not.