ASP takes over investigation into deadly officer-involved shooting

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Arkansas State Police have taken over the investigation into a deadly officer-involved shooting at a West Memphis apartment complex.

WREG's cameras were first on the scene as horrified witnesses stood by while the man laid dead in the parking lot.

The sound of gunshots just after 7 a.m. Saturday was a rude wake-up call for people who live there.

"I heard some shots and everybody was running out of their house, saying 'There's a dead man on the ground,'" said Rosemary Blakes.

West Memphis Police said one of their officers shot and killed that man after he robbed America's Best Value Inn nearby, then ran to the Steeplechase Apartments. That's where they say he pulled a gun on officers and ignored their demands to drop it.

Jack Balakrishnan runs the Country Hearth Inn next door. He saw and heard the commotion as he was arriving for his shift.

"I saw somebody jumping the fence," he said. "All of a sudden within a couple minutes, I could see on the other side, I could hear, three times gunshots."

Sadly, news of the robbery didn’t shock him.

He said his motel was hit twice back in November.

"Both the times at gunpoint," he said.

And this isn't the first deadly officer-involved shooting at the Steeplechase Apartments.

June will mark 10 years since West Memphis Police Officer Erik Sammis shot and killed 12-year-old DeAunta Farrow as he played outside.

Sammis thought the boy had a gun, but it turned out to be a toy.

He and his partner were later cleared in the case.

Farrow's cousin still lives there and, believe it or not, is jumping to the officer's defense in this latest shooting.

"For everything you do, you've got to accept the consequences," said Kevin Farrow. "I hate that the man died, but you've got to think before you do things."

But several other witnesses we spoke to were outraged, saying they fear they'll be next.

"Stop the police from killing," Blakes said. "That's all I've got to say, stop the police from killing. When I'm walking, I have somebody walking with me because I'm afraid of the police and what they'll do to me."

West Memphis Police Capt. Joe Baker said the officer involved is on paid administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted.

His name won't be released until that investigation is complete.