Benton County, AR, deputies were justified in opening fire during a "sting" operation in a Walmart parking lot in Rogers, AR, in April, the Benton County prosecutor said Tuesday.
The operation, which took place April 23, led to the arrest of Jose Luis Centeno, Jr., 33, who is now facing charges of attempted capital murder, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine, possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, fleeing in a vehicle, and tampering with physical evidence, according to the affidavit.
Six members of the Benton County Sheriff's Office and a Cave Springs police officer were involved in the undercover operation, which was initiated by a source who said they could set up a meeting with Centeno to buy methamphetamine, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The meeting was set up in the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter around 1 a.m. Officers boxed in the suspect, exited their vehicles, and ordered the suspect to show his hands, the affidavit states.
Centeno started the car and rammed the Cave Springs officer's truck, causing the officer to fall to the ground, according to the affidavit. The suspect then swerved the car toward the deputy who told him to show his hands and continued to swerve until he struck the deputy, causing him to flip over the hood of the vehicle, the affidavit states.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith requested that Arkansas State Police investigate the use of force by law enforcement officers. Smith concluded the use of force was legally justified, reports KFSM.
"It is kind of is amazing that no one was actually hurt in this incident," Smith said. "But nevertheless [the deputies] were justified in using deadly force because when he struck Officer [Matthew] Nading with his vehicle, that is deadly force and he easily could have killed that police officer."