HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – A long-anticipated trial is underway in Hot Springs.
Opening statements and testimony began Monday, July 25, in a trial after the deadly shooting of a Hot Springs Police officer in 2020.
Kayvon Ward, 22, of Hot Springs, is charged with capital murder, aggravated assault, possession of a defaced firearm and resisting arrest. The state’s opening to the jury called the charges against Ward a clear-cut case.
Ofc. 1st Class Brent Scrimshire was a six-year veteran of the force at the time of his death. He was shot March 10, 2020 after stopping an SUV driven by Ward for running a stop sign.
Defense opened by stating Ward had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which meant he was incapable of a premeditated act and he should not be charged with capital murder.
The prosecution had 11 witnesses as of 2 p.m., most of whom were Hot Springs Police officers. The first prosecution witness was Hot Springs Police Sergeant Jerry Freeman. Body and dash camera footage from Scrimshire’s partner was admitted as evidence, one of 20 exhibits submitted. Scrimshire’s body camera was not turned on the night he was shot, the jury heard.
Officer Ryan Davis is heard on one recording speaking with Scrimshire, telling him to “hold on” and “It’s going to be all right, stay with me Scrim.”
“I held his hand as we went to the emergency room,” Davis testified.
Other evidence included body camera footage of officers doing chest compressions to Scrimshire while shouting “Breathe!”
Department Sergeant Mike Brown testified Ward refused to identify himself as officers arrived on-scene.
“His only response was ‘[redacted] you’ and ‘roll me over,’” Brown said.
After Ward was pulled over, Scrimshire asked him for identification. He said he had none but identified himself as “Charles Dickens.” Scrimshire ran the name and a date of birth given by Ward and came back with nothing.
Another officer, Anthony Larkin, arrived to assist Scrimshire. A toddler-aged girl was in the car with Ward, who told officers her mother was at First Step. Officers allowed Ward to call her.
The mother, Coraima Hernandez, was dropped off shortly after. Footage showed she was uncooperative. While she talked with Larkin, his body camera revealed Ward opened his door and stepped out of the car.
“Get back in the car,” officers were heard yelling.
A struggle ensued, and both officers pinned Ward to the ground to handcuff him. According to Larkin’s testimony, Hernandez then started punching and choking the officers, which allowed Ward to escape.
Scrimshire’s body camera was not activated, and Larkin’s fell off during the struggle. Dash camera audio connected through Scrimshire’s microphone revealed they both tased Ward in the brief chase, but they didn’t fully connect.
The defense suggested that officers shot first at Ward shortly after. Larkin testified Ward shot first and was struck several times by return fire before falling. Scrimshire was also hit and stayed conscious for a short time.
“He still has a gun,” Scrimshire said. “Shoot him again.”
Scrimshire was struck in the upper chest and began to falter. He started losing color and ability to speak as backup arrived.
“Help me please,” Scrimshire said. “Hurry please.”
An EMT who testified Monday said Scrimshire did not have a pulse by the time he checked him shortly after.
A second person, Coraima Hernandez, 20, of Hot Springs has been charged in connection with the incident.