Barry Strickland. (Photo: Faulkner Co. Sheriff's Office)
Attorney Frank Shaw
CONWAY, AR (KTHV) - For the first time, THV 11 is hearing from the other side in the case involving a Conway police officer recently killed in the line of duty. Officer Will McGary died from injuries he sustained after getting hit by a car while directing traffic around an accident.
THV 11 News learned Monday that the man accused in this case, Barry Strickland, is now at home staying with his parents in Bald Knob. His attorney Frank Shaw said, after Strickland's family visited him in jail on Friday, they decided to bond him out.
Now as for the case, Shaw urged folks out there not to rush to judgment on his client. He said that this is a tragic accident and believed this is actually a case of two heroes.
"The evening this tragic accident occurred, Barry [Strickland] came home early from work and was on his way straight from work to his home, which is not far from the accident scene," Conway Attorney Frank Shaw said.
Conway Attorney Frank Shaw doesn't know yet why his client Barry Strickland left work early the night of Jan. 31, but he feels confident that Strickland wasn't out driving drunk when his car hit Conway Police Officer Will McGary, who was directing traffic around another accident at the time.
"There's no indication that he used any alcohol or any illegal substances of any kind," Shaw said.
Shaw said that his client does take prescription medicine for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving with the Army National Guard overseas. He didn't know if Strickland had perhaps taken too much the night of the accident.
"We'll have to wait on toxicology to see further about it," Shaw said.
Regardless, Shaw feels Strickland is not a killer.
"Barry Strickland graduated from Bald Knob High School and joined the Guard," Shaw said.
Shaw said Strickland served two tours, most recently in Iraq.
"He came home from the 39th [Infantry Brigade] an injured but decorated war veteran," Shaw said.
Despite drawing disability for PTSD, Shaw said Strickland continues to work for Union Pacific and comes from a good family.
"I can't adequately say how he feels about this but to say his remorse is overwhelming would be accurate," Shaw said. "His family is just devastated, not only for them, but for the McGary family specifically."
Shaw said while the two families don't know each other, they have mutual friends in common. As for taking the case, Shaw admitted that it wasn't an easy decision, but he said after sitting down and talking to Strickland, he felt compelled that people out there need to know his story beyond the details of this fatal crash.
Strickland is due in court Wednesday morning. Even though he's bonded out of jail for now, prosecutors plan to ask the judge for a higher bond of $250,000. Prosecutors said that's because the initial bond amount came before Officer McGary died.