After reviewing an investigation by the Arkansas State Police, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter has determined that a Pine Bluff police officer who shot and killed a man in August was justified in his action.
In a letter to Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant, Hunter said that under Arkansas law, Officer Jesse Valdez was justified in using deadly physical force against Danny Lee in defending Lt. Marcus Smith and that no criminal charges will be filed against Valdez.
Police were sent to a reported disturbance in the area of West Roane Avenue on Aug. 3 and found Lee near North Willow Street holding a handgun and pointing it at different people in the neighborhood, causing them to scatter in fear. Hunter said witnesses to the incident said Lee appeared to be under the influence of something by the way he was acting. Lee went down the block, and witnesses heard gunshots but did not actually see Lee shooting.
Hunter said Smith was the first officer on the scene and confronted Lee in an attempt to get him to put his gun down, but Lee refused his commands and continued to walk around with the gun.
As Valdez arrived, Smith and Lee were in the street, and Smith was attempting to disarm Lee but Smith tripped and fell; Lee then pointed his gun at Smith. Valdez fired multiple shots at Lee, thereby causing his death.
In the letter, Hunter said under Arkansas law, a law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if the officer reasonably believes that the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend himself or another person from what the officer believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.