Murder charges dropped against suspect accused of killing off-duty officer

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Authorities have dropped the murder charges against a man initially accused of murdering a Forrest City police officer.

According to the West Memphis Police Department, Bobby Patterson was taken into custody around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The law enforcement agency released a statement saying they had charged the 19-year-old with capital murder, five counts of terroristic acts, unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, engaging in violent criminal group activity and four counts of attempted murder.

However, Patterson later provided an alibi for the night of the shooting, which was verified by detectives.

Officer Oliver Johnson’s aunt, Stephanie Cole, sent WREG a message saying the family took a sigh of relief this morning thinking his killer was behind bars but now they are just numb.

“We don't want anyone wrongfully convicted updating that the charges were dropped wasn't what we expected," Cole said in the message.

A wreath and flower hang in front of the Forrest City Police Department where officer Johnson worked for two and a half years.

Lieutenant Darren Smith says Johnson thanked the Forrest City Police Department for his start in law enforcement.

“We’re not discouraged by this we want the individual responsible for this atrocious crime to be prosecuted," Smith said.

He had just turned in his resignation letter to start a new position in West Memphis this week.

“It struck home," Smith said. “Oliver Johnson was our brother, he was our friend, he was our family member.”

With only about a 35 man force, Forrest City is tight-knit. So when they heard about what happened to one of their brothers their hearts broke for his family.

“Your family makes countless sacrifices in order for you to be the police," Smith said.

Forrest City remembers officer Johnson as a respected officer and one who took his job as a protector seriously.

But as his killer still walks the streets officers are hoping someone comes forward.

“Whenever we catch whoever did this he is not going to understand why he did this. He is going to have a million excuses. “A father is gone, a friend is gone, a brother is gone, an uncle is gone and those two little girls have lost their father and I would tell anybody, replace that.”

Authorities said the initial arrest warrant was based on eyewitness testimony, which has now been proven as incorrect.

They said all of the charges have been dropped except one for gun possession.

For now, the search for Officer Oliver Johnson's killer continues.

There will be a candlelight vigil at the Forrest City Police Department Thursday at 7:30.

If you know anything about what happened at meadows apartments Saturday contact the West Memphis Police Department.