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Christopher Grant Finley was shot and killed by a Jonesboro officer in 2015
Police said he swung a machete at an officer through a 12-inch opening as the officer tried forcing his way into a home
JONESBORO, Ark. – A federal lawsuit claims a Jonesboro Police Department officer used lethal force on a man who, “did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.” But at least two officers said the suspect swung a machete at the officer through a gap in a door during a tense stand-off.
The City of Jonesboro is the defendant is the suit, along with Jonesboro Police Department, Officer Heath Loggains, Chief of Police Rick Elliott, and John and Janes Does I – IV, which are listed as possible individuals who also used lethal force. The lawsuit was filed by Chris Finley, the father of the deceased (Christopher) Grant Finley, 31. It was filed on March 30, 2018. It alleges damages including loss of life, funeral expenses, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of income, and conscious pain and suffering.
The suit stems from an April 14, 2015 night when officers with JPD believed there to be probable cause to arrest Grant Finley for aggravated assault. Officers arrived at and staged themselves at Grant’s home at 900 Walnut Street at about 9 PM, the lawsuit says. Around this time, the suit says Grant’s father, Chris, became aware of the situation and came to the home. He told officers Grant suffered from mental illnesses including paranoid schizophrenia several times and apparently promised to bring his son to JPD’s headquarters the following day, April 15. The father said officers told him they had no intention of making a forced entry into Grant’s home to arrest him.
The father went into the home to talk to his son, the lawsuit says. It says he related these assurances to Grant and counseled him, planning to return in the morning. The father left at 9:50 PM.
At 10:22 PM, Grant came out of the home, says the lawsuit. That’s when Loggains, crouched behind a bush, is said to have jumped out, shouted, “Go. Go.” and charged the paranoid schizophrenic. Grant ran back into his home, the lawsuit says.
This is where two versions of events begin to differ.
The police version of events is that Grant tried to slam the front door on Loggains and struck him in the arm with a machete. In his defense, Loggains said he was forced to fire his duty weapon at the suspect who had “forced the door and swung at” Loggains with a machete. The police report describes it as a “minor injury,” with “swelling on left arm above wrist.”
The lawsuit’s version states, “Grant Finley ran back into his home and closed the door to his home. In an effort to arrest Grant Finley, Officer Loggains, who was outside the home, used unlawful lethal force against Finley.” Section 23 of the lawsuit states Loggains shot fourteen times, through a closed door, killing Grant Finley. The lawsuit makes no mention of a bladed weapon being used against Loggains.
UPDATE: We received the video and did a full breakdown as seen here:
“The use of deadly force was unreasonable and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and applicable statutes,” says section 27 of the lawsuit. Section 28 goes on to say, “Rather than defuse the situation, or attempt to resolve the situation, without the use of force, Defendant Loggains rushed in, began yelling and screaming at Grant Finley. Defendant Loggains’s conduct exacerbated the situation.”
Authorities didn’t get into the home until 1:38 AM to find Grant Finley on the other side of the front door. He was dead.
Other officer’s detailed what happened from their perspectives in the incident report narratives. In the publicly visible files obtained Tuesday by NEA Report, only two officers reported seeing the shooting, itself.
One of the officers who witnessed the events was Bryan Davis. He said Finley would continuously look out the windows and over the radio, heard Loggains state the man had come out of the home several times. Davis said Loggains reported he was going to try to make contact the next time he stepped out of the home. Davis said in his report it was during the 11 PM hour the incident escalated (a minor discrepancy exists between the lawsuit and the police report’s 10 PM time frames).
“Loggains was attempting to push his way inside, but was obviously being met with resistance,” wrote Davis. “Loggains then retreated with his service weapon pointed at the door and began firing.”
While Davis didn’t report anything regarding Loggains’s injuries or a machete, Officer Paul Williams did.
“As I rounded the northwest corner to the front of the residence I observed Pfc. Loggains pushing on the door,” reported Williams. “There was an approximate 12″ gap in the door as Finley was pushing on the inside of the door in an attempt to keep Pfc. Loggains from pushing the door open. As I approached Pfc. Loggains at the door to help clear Finley from the door and make entry, I saw a hand, holding a bladed object, come through the opening of the door and swing downward, striking Pfc. Loggains on the left arm just above the wrist. Pfc. Loggains then drew his service weapon and began to fire into the door in the direction of where Finley had been standing.”
On Tuesday, City of Jonesboro Communications Director Bill Campbell said Loggains was still with JPD. He said the city did not have any other comment to offer while the lawsuit is open.
We are expecting a full release of the video within the next day or two and will follow-up on this story when it is released on Stan Morris Reporting, our Facebook/YouTube newscast which airs live on Facebook around 3 PM each day and is available on-demand on YouTube after.