LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KTHV) - A judge has dismissed manslaughter charges filed against a Little Rock police officer who was set to go to trial for the third time in the shooting death of a teenager.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted the prosecutors' request Monday to drop charges against Josh Hastings. In a motion, the prosecution said it made the request "based on its good faith belief that it cannot obtain a conviction" against Hastings.
"We wouldn't have filed charges if we didn't believe this was a manslaughter. Obviously jurors couldn't agree one way. Do we in good faith - as the engine that drives the system - believe that a third trial could get a unanimous verdict guilt and that seemed to be unlikely," said prosecuting attorney Larry Jegley. "This is a bitter pill and one of the most gut wrenching decisions in 20 plus years. That boy shouldn't have been shot. That was improper use of deadly force. I'm sorry we couldn't jury through the finish line."
Jegley said the case can be refiled before April 7, 2015. Hastings' attorney, Bill James, says his client is relieved and plans to try and get back on the Little Rock Police force. James says it's unlikely the case will reopen.
"I can't imagine what could happen that could bring about new facts that could warrant bringing it forward on a new filing. Certainly the prosecutor can...but ordinarily in a situation like this, nolle prosequi, you don't see them refiled," said James.
Hastings was charged in the 2012 shooting death of Bobby Moore III. Two previous trials ended with hung juries, with the first trial resulting in 10-2 in favor of guilt and the second resulting in 11-1. Hastings had been set for a third trial in May.
Hastings says a car driven by Moore was moving toward him when he opened fire. Prosecutors allege Hastings acted recklessly when he shot Moore.
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(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)