Helena-West Helena officer accused of throwing flash bangs at cadets during training

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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — A Helena-West Helena police officer found himself on the other side of the law after allegedly throwing flash bang grenades at two cadets.

Lieutenant Michael Thomas' mugshot was taken Wednesday afternoon as he was booked and charged with aggravated assault.

Thomas was silent and downcast as was led from Helena-West Helena Police Department where worked for the last 15 years.

But police say Thomas was all smiles and erupted in laughter just moments after throwing a flash bang at a cadet's feet during training at a gun range Dec. 29.

The cadet was using the restroom when, without warning, Thomas allegedly hurled the explosive, forcing the cadet to flee in fear as it went off.

"Anybody would tell you that Thomas is a great person. He has an awesome personality, he'd never hurt anyone," Thomas' fiance said.

His fiance', who didn't want to be identified, tells us the trained range master was merely demonstrating for the cadets as a part of their training.  "Just like in the police academy where you get maced. They have to get maced to know what if feels like," she said.

But police say flash bangs were not part of the training curriculum.

Police chief James Smith tells WREG Thomas also threw a second flash bang at another cadet.

Luckily, he says that one didn't go off.

Thomas is currently off the job.


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