There’s lingering questions and concerns in West Memphis, AR, after two people were killed and one officer was injured in an officer-involved shooting Wednesday night.
It happened around 9:30 p.m. at 18th and McAuley. West Memphis Police said a man and a woman were shot, and died on the scene, after they refused to stop their car and rammed into police cruisers.
WMPD isn’t releasing the names of the officers involved or the two victims.
The Arkansas State Police will lead their own independent investigation.
Witnesses described the chaotic for those living nearby.
“It happened so fast, but it was a lot of commotion,” Tara Jones said.
“All we heard was ‘fire, fire, fire’,” another witness said. “It was just like firecrackers.”
This is West Memphis’ first deadly officer-involved shooting since April 2017, which happened at an apartment complex. Like that one, some in West Memphis again wondered if the gunfire was justified.
“It don’t have to take this. They could have did another option instead of using deadly force,” a witness said.
“We are just going to look at it from an independent lens,” Hubert Bass said.
Bass serves on the Crittenden County Justice Commission. He admitted such shootings challenge the confidence between West Memphians and their police force, but believed there’s ways to change that perception, especially now.
“Community policing is something we need to look at it, hiring police officers from the community that may be able to talk to some of these young people that they know, that they grew up with,” Bass said.
The new West Memphis Police Chief Eddie West and the community’s newly elected mayor Marco McClendon plan to work together to restore trust between officers and the neighbors they serve.
The police officer injured Wednesday night is now out of the hospital.