Officer-involved shooting at Zapata’s found justified

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An officer-involved shooting at Zapata’s restaurant on Oct. 13 has been determined justified by the Prosecuting Attorney serving Miller County, Arkansas.

Jayden Sledge, 20, was shot in the arm by Detective Wayne Easley of the Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department in a storage area of the restaurant after allegedly threatening Easley and others with a firearm on the evening of Oct. 13, according to probable cause documents.

In a letter dated Oct. 20, Prosecuting Attorney Charles Black states that after reviewing a report by Arkansas State Police Special Agent John Rhone and video surveillance, “it is abundantly clear to me that the actions of Detective Wayne Easley were completely justifiable on several different grounds of the criminal code.”

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Black’s letter to Rhone and TAPD Chief Kristi Bennett states that Easley should be “highly commended for taking the fast and professional action that he took which unquestionably prevented injuries or death to the many citizens and patrons that were present in the restaurant.”

Sledge allegedly threatened a man in a parking lot next to Hopkin’s Icehouse across the street from Zapata’s after the man confronted Sledge while he was breaking into the man’s wife’s car. Easley was at Hopkin’s celebrating a birthday when he was informed of the alleged car break-in.

Easley and his son, who is also a police officer, chased Sledge as he ran inside Zapata’s. Inside the restaurant, Sledge allegedly pulled the gun. Easley reportedly borrowed a gun from a Zapata’s customer before proceeding to the storage area of the restaurant where Sledge allegedly ran.

Sledge allegedly threatened Easley with the gun in the storage area and was shot in the arm. A set of keys belonging to a Kia which had been reported as stolen from Central Mall in Texarkana, Texas, earlier in the day were allegedly found on the floor.

Sledge had allegedly been fired from Zapata’s on Oct. 8 and had allegedly made threats to return with a gun, according to probable cause documents.

Sledge is being held in the Miller County jail. His bond is set at $250,000. He is charged with breaking and entering, terroristic threats and aggravated assault.

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