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January 04, 2007
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Ark. officer's gun blamed for fatal shooting of bystander in shootout with suspect

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP)-- A bystander was fatally shot by a police officer in a shootout with a suspect, authorities said Wednesday.

Olivia Stewart 41, was in the parking lot of an apartment complex a block away when she was caught in the crossfire between police and a man with a sawed-off shotgun on Dec. 12, police said.

The shooting had erupted after police, who were called out to investigate a man with a gun, pulled over a car with Gary Nixon inside.

Police have said Nixon got out of the car and exchanged gunfire with Officer Jeff Carter and Cpl. Ron Scamardo. Nixon surrendered following a chase.

"Our investigation leaves no doubt that the bullet which struck Ms. Stewart came from the firearm of the officer who initiated the traffic stop," the Fort Smith Police Department said in a news release.

The two officers involved in the arrest have been cleared by the prosecutor's office and an internal investigation and have returned to work, the release said.

Nixon has been charged with murder in Stewart's death, plus two counts of attempted murder, felon in possession of a firearm, and two counts of aggravated robbery. He also was charged as a habitual criminal.

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