Aries Clark (Image source: Family handout)

In late July, Aries Clark, 16, was shot dead by police outside of the East Arkansas Youth Services in the city of Marion, Arkansas. Police were called to the scene after reports of Clark acting erratically. When police arrived Clark was holding a weapon, which was later found to be a BB gun. Initial reports stated that officers arrived at the scene and within moments Clark was shot multiple times, including the back of the head, according to his distraught mother.

The tragedy was compounded last week when a fight broke out at Clark’s funeral and resulted in thrown chairs and broken church pews. Now, police are saying that the officers involved in Clark’s shooting will not face any charges, nor should they, according to recently released body cam footage. It turns out that officers arriving at the scene presumed Clark had a real gun, but instead of shooting him, one officer spent several minutes trying to de-escalate the situation. Footage from the body cam of officer Wesley Smith shows the officer trying to talk calmly to the teen, joking with hi m and even bargaining with him to lower his weapon. Prosecutors have decided that the use of lethal force was justified.

Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington wrote in a statement, “Clark’s actions that day brought about the circumstances that threatened the lives of at least four law enforcement officers had the gun he brandished been a firearm, as was perceived by the responding officers, and I cannot find that the officers acted criminally. … Therefore, I find the officers were justified under these circumstances and no criminal charges will be filed in the matter.”

Normally when the there is news of a young Black man shot by White cops there is outrage when it is found out that the officers will face no charges. But in this case, the officers did everything by the book and went a step further in order not to take Clark’s life.

The video can be viewed below:

Mo Barnes

“Mo Betta”
Maurice “Mo” Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.