Two Pine Bluff Police Department officers who were involved in a deadly shooting incident Aug. 26 at the Harbor Oaks Restaurant were justified in using force, including deadly force, Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Monday.
In a letter to Police Chief Ivan Whitfield, Hunter said Officer Deshawn Bennett and Sgt. William Roulhac were justified in firing their weapons at Malik Lee during a UAPB fraternity party. Hunter based his decision on a report from the Arkansas State Police.
Hunter had asked for the state police investigation shortly after the incident, which began when several individuals who had gathered outside the restaurant at about 12:30 p.m. got involved in an altercation which turned into a fight. Bennett attempted to pull Lee out of the fight when he was shot in the hand, causing him to drop his weapon.
Assistant Chief of Police Kelvin Sergeant said when Bennett reached down to retrieve his weapon, he was shot in the back of his leg. Lee, 18, who was from Little Rock, then attempted to flee, and Roulhac, who had determined that Lee was the shooter, ordered Lee to drop his weapon and get on the ground. Lee refused to comply and fired at Roulhac, who returned fire and killed Lee. Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.
In his letter, Hunter said Bennett and Roulhac were justified in using deadly force against Lee in self-defense, and Roulhac was also justified in “using deadly physical force to effect the arrest of Lee, who had just committed a felony and was armed and dangerous.”
Sergeant said Monday that Bennett’s doctors cleared him medically as fit for duty after the incident; now that the prosecutor has cleaned both Bennett and Rouhlac, they will immediately return to full duty. Both had been on administrative leave with pay.