By Jon Gambrell
PLUMERVILLE, Ark. — A rural Arkansas assistant police chief only two weeks from retirement was shot dead Friday during a traffic stop, authorities said.
The officer, Joey Cannon, 49, pulled over a pickup truck just after 6 a.m., with about 40 minutes left in an otherwise routine nightshift, Plumerville Chief Bill Hartman said.
He had information the truck was stolen and had a sheriff's deputy to back him up as he approached the driver's side of the truck, said Sheriff Mike Smith.
A single shot fired by the truck's driver struck Cannon in the chest. Hartman said he didn't know whether the 27-year law enforcement veteran had a bulletproof vest on or if the deputy returned fire.
A passenger in the truck jumped out and the deputy arrested him as the pickup sped off, Smith said. The truck was stopped in Faulkner County a short time later. Police recovered a bag and a weapon from near the truck, said Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police.
Smith refused to name the men arrested, but said they'd likely face capital murder charges. If convicted, the charge carries either a death sentence or life in prison.
Hartman said Cannon, who served as a police officer in the small town for nine years, approached him Thursday night about retiring.
Cannon's son, a Conway County deputy, arrived to the scene shortly after the shooting. His daughter works as a sheriff's dispatcher in Perry County.
"The comment he made the other day was that it was time to retire because things were changing too much," Hartman said.
Cannon was one of only three full-time officers in the city, a little more than 30 miles northwest of Little Rock.
"This has been one of the worst things that's happened here in the history of the town," Mayor Ed Paladino said.
The officer's death is the latest tragedy to strike the small town of 866 in central Arkansas. In April, three young boys drowned when their mother drove a car into a manmade lake north of town during an early morning rainstorm.
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The last police shooting death in Arkansas came in 2007.