Video released of Ark. officer's shooting death
Dash cam video released Tuesday shows how quickly an April 2011 traffic stop turned deadly
By Andrew DeMillo
TRUMANN, Ark. — An Arkansas police officer who was fatally shot during a traffic stop last year can be heard pleading for his life with his attacker in dashboard video released Tuesday.
The 20-minute video shot from Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt's squad car shows how quickly the April 2011 nighttime traffic stop turned deadly. Jerry Lard, who was a passenger in the back seat, was convicted last month of capital murder for killing Schmidt and sentenced to die.
Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson said he wants his officers to learn from the incident and he plans to increase training for nighttime traffic stops such as the one that led to Schmidt's death.
"He'll be our greatest teacher and our trainer," Henson said at a news conference with prosecutors. "He's pushing us forward, so with that we'll be better for it."
The video shows Lard sitting in the back of a vehicle that Schmidt pulled over because a license plate check showed it might not have insurance. After he handcuffed and questioned the driver for an unrelated warrant, Schmidt asked Lard for his name and date of birth. A little over a minute later, as Schmidt opened the back passenger door, a hand can be seen reaching out and firing at the officer's face.
Lard bolts from the car and continues firing at Schmidt and officer Corey Overstreet, who was also at the scene.
The video also shows Schmidt helping Overstreet to his feet as Lard fired at the two of them. Lard taunted and cursed at the officers as he shot at them.
"What you got?" Lard can be heard yelling as he fired his gun.
Later, Schmidt can be heard pleading with Lard off-camera: "Please don't shoot me. Please don't shoot me again."
Later, Overstreet can be heard talking to Schmidt as they waited for ambulances to arrive. Lard was wounded in the shootout and was taken at the scene.
"We've got help coming, buddy," Overstreet can be heard saying.
During Lard's trial, his attorneys didn't deny that he killed Schmidt but said Lard was mentally ill or deficient and should be spared execution. A medical examiner told jurors Schmidt was shot four times, in the chin, neck, right wrist and chest, though a protective vest blocked that shot.
With his conviction and sentence, Lard became the 38th death row inmate in Arkansas, although the state currently can't carry out executions since the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down its lethal injection law earlier this year.
Prosecutor Scott Ellington praised Schmidt as a hero and said he was grateful to the jury for convicting Lard.
"It's not how Officer Schmidt died that made him a hero, it's how he lived," Ellington said.
Donald Schmidt, Jonathan's father, told reporters that he hopes officers learn from the shooting, but he didn't want to have to watch the video again because he's constantly reminded of the shooting even without the images.
"If you would like to lie down every night when you go to bed and see someone murdering your son and then wake up every morning and see someone murdering your son, you can imagine what our life is like," said Schmidt, who attended the news conference with other family members.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press