LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Pulaski County prosecutor said a Little Rock Police Department officer involved in a weekend shooting has been arrested.
During a news conference Wednesday, Prosecuting Attorney Will Jones and LRPD Chief Heath Helton said Officer Johvoni McClendon is facing charges tied to the early Saturday morning shooting near the intersection of Mabelvale Pike and Mabelvale Circle.
Investigators said McClendon was one of the officers involved in an earlier pursuit who had lost sight of the white Dodge Charger they were seeking. The officers then found the Charger abandoned and started searching the area.
During that search, the officers said a truck began circling the area. The officers said they then approached that truck with their guns drawn and told the driver and a passenger to get out.
Investigators said that while the driver complied with the commands, the passenger, later identified as 20-year-old Brendan Johnson, slid over into the driver’s seat and tried to drive away.
Authorities said the officers told Johnson to stop and get out of the truck but that he refused. At that point the investigators said McClendon fired his weapon in an attempt to stop the truck, hitting Johnson.
The officers provided aid to Johnson until medical personnel arrived to take him to a nearby hospital. On Tuesday, department officials said Johnson was still in the hospital but was stable.
Helton said the officer’s use of deadly force in this situation was outside department policy to a degree that mandated the officer face criminal charges.
“No doubt the actions of Officer McClendon are outside department policy related to the use of deadly force,” the chief said. “Due to the severity of the violations observed, I believe it was imperative that immediate actions be taken to protect the public, our internal policies and the law.”
Helton said McClendon was relieved of his duties “within hours” of the shooting.
Jones and Helton said McClendon is being charged with first-degree battery, a felony, and first-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
“There are more than a thousand law enforcement officers courageously serving the citizens of Pulaski County every day,” Jones said. “I’m obligated to hold public servants accountable when they betray the law – but more importantly, separate them from the brave men and women who wear the badge with honor and integrity.”
Jones said as his office made the decision to approve the affidavit for a felony warrant against McClendon, he notified Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins that McClendon may become an inmate under his care.
Jones was careful not to say anything beyond his prepared remarks.
“[The] Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct does not allow further comment,” the prosecutor said.
A spokesperson with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said McClendon was arraigned in Little Rock District Court around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday then booked into the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility around 10 a.m. He was released after paying bail on his $25,000 bond.