Two Marion police officers cleared in shooting death of 16-year-old

by: Zach Crenshaw Updated:

WEST MEMPHIS - Two Marion police officers have been cleared in the shooting death of a 16-year-old.

The teen was holding a black 1911 BB pistol. Body camera footage shows the teen raising the weapon towards officers before being shot.


The following video shows the moments leading up to the shooting. WARNING: Viewer discretion advised. 


In a letter sent Wednesday afternoon, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington laid out the details of what happened before Aries Clark, 16, was shot outside the East Arkansas Youth Services (EAYS) on July 25, 2017.

Ellington released multiple body camera angles of the shooting.

In the letter Ellington wrote,

“Audio captured on all four body cameras indicates officers ordered, cajoled, encouraged, and begged Clark to rid himself of the weapon. As officers attempted to convince Clark to drop his weapon, the juvenile turned and focused his attention on other officers to the south of him. Officers on the scene continued to negotiate with Clark for well over ten minutes attempting to get him to drop the weapon…Clark pointed his weapon in the direction of those officers. Observing the imminent danger the other officers were in, Officer Smith immediately fired his service weapon at Clark, who was struck multiple times…As soon as the gun was removed from Clark’s hand, officers immediately summoned an ambulance on the scene and life saving techniques were used in an attempt to save Clark’s life. Clark was transported to Regional One hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and died.”


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"The officers involved, according to Scott Ellington, were cleared of any wrongdoing and justified in using lethal force," said Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley.

Chief Kelley said the two officers involved will be back at work Thursday after being on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

We spoke with Clark's grandmother after the video was released. She said her grandson should still be alive. 

"That was enough time to take my grandson down without taking his life," Vickie Burns said. "They didn't have to kill him that way. At least he'd be alive." 

By all accounts, Aries Clark had been let down by adults. He was in DCS custody and at youth services for counseling.
 
His grandmother told us he'd been crying out for help. At his funeral, one of Aries' middle school poems was read.
 
"He said, 'Do I have the right to be safe? Does anybody hear me?' Oh it was so beautiful," said the grandmother.
 
If there's any lesson amidst this tragedy, it's that everyone needs to be heard. 
 
Police Chief Gary Kelley told us the situation has affected his officers as well.
 
Even though they followed training, it's been a tough situation for them having to come to grips with what happened.