Cops Were ‘Justified’ in Killing 16-Year-Old Aries Clark, Prosecutors Say

The officers who shot and killed a 16-year-old in Marion, Ark., will not be facing charges after state prosecutors concluded that their use of force was justified.

“The investigation revealed that Marion Police Officers Wesley Smith and Brannon Hinkle were confronted with circumstances justifying the use of deadly force the afternoon Aries Clark was shot,” a letter dated Aug. 9 from 2nd District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington to Arkansas State Police read, WREG reports.

Aries was shot and killed July 25 outside the East Arkansas Youth Services, a facility that caters to at-risk and delinquent youths. He was struck three times by the officers’ bullets. Officers believed that the teen was armed with a handgun, although a report notes that agents only recovered “a solid black 1911 BB pistol from the location where Clark fell after he was shot.”

In bodycam video of the incident, officers can be heard pleading with Aries in an attempt to get him to drop the BB pistol and talk to them before they ultimately fired the fatal shots.

“It ain’t that serious, man. We got kids, man. You’re somebody’s kid, man. We don’t want to do this,” one officer could be heard saying. “We can talk about this, but you have to put the gun down. Just put the gun down, walk away; we’ll put ours down and we can talk.”

“Clark’s actions that day brought about the circumstances that threatened the lives of at least four law-enforcement officers had the gun he brandished been a firearm as was perceived by the responding officers, and I cannot find that the officers acted criminally. Therefore, I find the officers were justified under these circumstances and no criminal charges will be filed in this matter,” Ellington’s letter reads.

Aries had been in DHS custody while his family dealt with issues at home and therapy. His mother said that he had been staying with the youth facility for less than a week when she got a call to say that he ran away. When Aries returned to the facility the following day, officers were called, although it is still unclear why.

According to WREG, Aries’ family has yet to see the videos, but their attorney, Kim T. Cole, said that her office has begun to review the footage.

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