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No charges for Union County deputy who shot murder suspect

by Caitlan Butler | August 4, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

Jeffrey Rogers, prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District, has opted not to bring charges against a Union County Sheriff's deputy who shot a murder suspect earlier this year.

Deputy Josh Meyers fatally shot Lance Lockett, 41, on May 2, after the El Dorado Police Department and UCSO responded to a report of a homicide at a residence on West Wesson Street.

The Arkansas State Police launched an investigation of the officer-involved shooting, as did the UCSO. The ASP's investigative file was forwarded to Rogers for review, and in a June 22 letter to the agency, Rogers said he had determined criminal charges against the deputy were not appropriate in this case.

According to his letter, Lockett himself called police and "stated he had killed someone at the location." When police arrived, they reportedly found Lockett armed with a rifle and "evidence of an immediately preceding criminal act."

Police found Lockett's uncle, Thomas Lockett, 63, deceased inside the West Wesson home when they responded to the residence. Details about how he was killed have not been released by the UCSO or El Dorado Police Department.

Rogers did not respond to an inquiry about what evidence of a crime Lockett was holding when officers arrived, and Sheriff Ricky Roberts declined to provide additional details about the scene as well.

"Out of respect for the family, I'm just not going to comment on that," Roberts said. "It was obvious he had committed the homicide; he even said that when he called 911. It was just something that I have never seen in 39 years of my law enforcement career."

Lance Lockett allegedly "moved aggressively toward officers" and later fired a shot in officers' direction. He refused to surrender to police, Rogers wrote in his letter, and "continued to raise the rifle in a shooting fashion after firing the first round."

It was at that point that Meyers shot Lance Lockett, Rogers wrote.

In his review of the ASP's investigation, Rogers wrote that Meyers "was acting with justification and did not employ excessive force."

"Based upon these findings, this office will not be commencing a prosecution of Deputy Meyers or any other officers present at the event and the matter is now closed," Rogers wrote.

Roberts said an internal review also found that Meyers had not violated any UCSO policies or procedures related to use-of-force.

"After several commands to drop the weapon, (Lance Lockett) raised the weapon and fired at our officers, and unfortunately, we had to return fire. It was one of those things where, as a police officer, you hope and you pray that you're never put in that situation, but there's some times where we are," he said.

Meyers has returned to duty after being placed on administrative leave immediately after the incident, pending the ASP and internal investigations, Roberts said. Per state code, officers at the scene of the shooting were also offered counseling.

"We as law enforcement, we see a lot of things; we see a lot of tragedy in our careers and sometimes we become victims ourselves from what we do see in the daily being a police officer," Roberts said.

He urged local residents to take up issues with the police in court, instead of at the scene of a police investigation.

"Let's fight it in a court of law; let's not fight it on the side of the street. If it's a bad arrest, then it'll all come out in a courtroom, instead of fighting it out and somebody possibly losing their life or getting injured," he said. "This case could have ended a little bit different had he followed the commands of the officers."

Roberts said he knows the family of the homicide and shooting victims, and offered condolences.

"I hate it for the families of not only the victim, the homicide victim, but also the suspect. I've known the family for some time now and it's just – it's a bad situation," he said.

A public information officer at the EPD couldn't be reached by press-time. On May 9, Lt. Jarod Primm said the investigation into Thomas Lockett's murder was ongoing.

Print Headline: No charges for Union County deputy who shot murder suspect


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