FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Fort Smith Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has completed its review of a fall incident in which an officer shot and killed a suspect after responding to an assault call.
According to a letter from prosecuting attorney Daniel Shue, “probable cause to charge Officer Gaines with a criminal act does not exist.” The officer in question shot and killed a suspect, Christofer Conner, 40, that was “actively attempting to murder him with a knife by slashing his throat.”
The shooting occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. on October 17, 2021, when Officer Gaines responded to a disturbance call involving a domestic assault in progress. According to the letter, the caller first reported that a male was choking and kicking a female, and then stated that a victim was “being beaten with a brick” by the suspect.
Officer Gaines was the first one to arrive at the intersection of Tilles Avenue and Lecta Avenue, and he observed the suspect hitting the victim with the brick. He exited his vehicle and “immediately took his firearm out and commanded the suspect to drop the brick.”
The victim being beaten was the suspect’s 15-year-old son. After initially appearing to comply, Conner drew a knife and sliced Officer Gaines’ throat. The officer then fired two shots, killing the suspect.
The teen was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead. He sustained multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma.
After the encounter with Conner, officers found another victim and evidence of a violent attack inside a home at 2819 Tilles Ave. Julia Marie Moore, 42, was found dead inside the home with multiple stab wounds.
A five-year-old child was also found in the home and taken to safety. Officer Gaines underwent emergency surgery for his injuries at a Fort Smith hospital.
The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving regarding the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.Daniel Shue, prosecuting attorney
The letter from the prosecuting attorney added that “I do not find Officer Gaines’s use of deadly force to be ureasonable at the moment he made the decision to fire,” stating that “the shooting of Christofer Conner by Officer Gaines was justified under Arkansas law and the result of deadly physical force being reasonably and justifiably applied pursuant to the above-referenced statute and relevant Constitutional law.”