12/18/2006

Naked man shot by Ark. police

Editor's Note: If you find yourself facing a naked suspect, remember that you are quite possibly dealing with someone in the midst of a psychotic break. Proceed with extreme caution.

Related: Naked suspects: No laughing matter
Cops share details of encounters with naked suspects

By Jake Bleed
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

North Little Rock police shot and severely wounded a naked 31-year-old man early Thursday morning, saying he had fired at an officer with a revolver.

Willie Lee Shavers Jr. was hit at least once by gunfire from two officers, said Terry Kuykendall, spokesman for the North Little Rock Police Department.

Shavers' wife, Laura Shavers, said her husband didn't have a real gun, but a BB gun that belongs to her son.

She said he stood with his arms raised in front of the officers, telling them if "y'all gonna shoot me, y'all are wrong." Shavers was taken to the Baptist Health Medical Center in North Little Rock and placed in intensive care. A spokesman for the hospital declined to state his condition Thursday. Laura Shavers said her husband was shot once in the chest.

It was the second police-involved shooting on either side of the Arkansas River this month. On Dec. 6, Little Rock narcotics detectives shot and killed 27-year-old DeAndre Glenn, who they said tried to rob a man who was working with police as part of an anti-drug operation. That shooting still is under investigation.

Willie Shavers was scheduled to stand trial at 8:30 a.m. Thursday on a drug charge. Shavers, convicted of multiple charges since the mid-1990s, has been imprisoned and paroled five times from the state Department of Correction.

Worried that he faced a lengthy prison sentence, Shavers got high on PCP, his wife said. He appeared at his mother's house at 808 W. 21st St., took off his clothes and told his mother that he wished to die, Laura Shavers said.

"That's why he was in that state," Laura Shavers said. "He thought he was going to get locked up for good." About 2:50 a.m., Shavers' mother called police, telling them her son was on drugs and in her backyard.

Three officers responded to the call, Kuykendall said, and Shavers brandished a gun and fired at one officer several times.

Two officers returned fire, then took cover. Although wounded, Shavers was not subdued, Kuykendall said.

At some point, Shavers dropped his weapon. Officers used "less lethal methods" to subdue Shavers, Kuykendall said.

"We take this very seriously," Kuykendall said. "One of our officers easily could have been killed last night." It was the third time North Little Rock officers have been fired on this year, Kuykendall said.

Laura Shavers said police beat her husband, breaking his nose and bloodying his head.

"They beat him," Shavers said. "He got knocked all on the upside of his head. His nose busted, his gums bleeding, his lip is busted. What was the purpose of beating him after they done shot him?" Kuykendall said officers used the force that was necessary to subdue Shavers.

"Our use of force was only to get him into custody," Kuykendall said.

Under department policy, the shooting is being investigated and the two officers who fired on Shavers have been placed on leave with pay.

Kuykendall said Laura Shavers didn't arrive at the scene until 45 minutes after her husband was shot. Laura Shavers said she watched the events from outside a police perimeter and that Shavers' mother witnessed the shooting from inside her home.

Mark Culberson, who lives across 21st Street from Shavers' mother, said he heard police yelling at Shavers to drop a gun around 3 a.m.

He said that he didn't see a gun and that Shavers was "the way he came into the world, buck naked." Shavers was scheduled to stand trial on a drug possession charge stemming from an Aug. 26 arrest in North Little Rock.

At the time, Shavers had been out of the Department of Correction for a little more than two months.

In the past decade, Shavers has been sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison.

Copyright 2006 Little Rock Newspapers, Inc.

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