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MARION, Ark. — A review by state prosecutors concludes that Marion police officers who shot and killed a teen were justified in using lethal force.
"The investigation revealed that Marion Police Officers Wesley Smith and Brannon Hinkle were confronted with circumstances justifying the use of deadly force the afternoon Aries Clark was shot," reads the Aug. 9 letter from Scott Ellington, 2nd District prosecuting attorney, to Arkansas State Police.
Clark, 16, was shot and killed July 25 outside East Arkansas Youth Services, a facility for at-risk and delinquent youth. He was struck three times by officers' bullets.
According to the report, Clark appeared to officers to be armed with a handgun.
In police video, officers can be seen spending several minutes trying to talk to Clark and convince him to put away his weapon. "Aries, we can help you, man," an officer yells.
The report notes that agents recovered "a solid black 1911 BB pistol from the location where Clark fell after he was shot."
Ellington's letter concludes:
"Clark’s actions that day brought about the circumstances that threatened the lives of at least four law enforcement officers had the gun he brandished been a firearm as was perceived by the responding officers, and I cannot find that the officers acted criminally. Therefore, I find the officers were justified under these circumstances and no criminal charges will be filed in this matter."
Clark attended West Memphis High School.
According to his mother, he had been in DHS custody as the family dealt with disputes at home and therapy. She said he’d been staying at the youth facility for less than a week when she got a call Monday that he ran away.
Officers were called as he was being returned to the facility Tuesday.
The teen's family hasn't yet seen the videos and has no comment, their attorney, Kim T. Cole, said. Cole said her office has begun reviewing the footage.
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