Suspects plead not guilty in killing of Helena-West Helena officer


HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Two men charged in the death of Helena-West Helena police officer Travis Wallace were arraigned Monday morning in the Phillips County Circuit Court.

Latarius Howard and Bruce Hillie both pleaded not guilty.

The family of Travis Wallace say they are still in shock from the officer’s death last November and are hoping justice will come swiftly.

“We understand that sometimes justice is slow, so we get that. We just want our day in court. That’s what we want, swift justice,” said Terrica Wallace, the sister of Travis Wallace.

Wallace says the past five months since her brother’s death has seemed like an eternity, but the arraignment Monday of Latarious Howard and Bruce Hillie, both charged in Wallace’s death, is a light at the end of dark tunnel.

“Lots of emotions, you know. Hurt, disgust, you know. But they’re “low life” criminals, so I won’t even give them the time of day,” Wallace said.

Howard is charged with capital murder. He was being sought in connection with a previous shooting incident when he was pulled over by Officer Wallace last November, when he reportedly jumped out of his vehicle and started firing shots hitting Wallace.

Hillie, who is named as an accomplice and accused of hindering apprehension, had nothing to say as he left court Monday.

Hillie and Howard both pleaded not guilty and remain in jail.

“This is a very difficult time for everybody, but we’re just trust in the judicial process and allow them to have their day in court. But in the meantime it’s our time to embrace the department and also the family in need,” said James Smith, Chief of Police in Helena-West Helena.

Smith says his department, like many, are under attack by criminals and now fighting a battle with one less soldier in “blue.”

“You know that we are at war throughout this country, and with a war there will be casualties. Unfortunately it knocked at our door,” Smith said.

The judge set May 10, as a tentative trial date and instructed both Howard and Hillie to have legal representation.

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