Channel 4 gathered a comment last night from criminal defense lawyer Bill James, who’ll be representing Little Rock Patrol Officer Joshua Hastings on the manslaughter charge filed against him yesterday for the fatal shooting of Bobby Moore, 15, at the scene of a suspected car break-in.
Hastings, 26 and a five-year police veteran, has said he fired because he feared for his life as Moore drove a car toward him when he tried to stop three youths to question them about car break-ins at an apartment complex.
“I think as a police officer he’s very hurt. He’s really hurt more than anything else,” Bill James told KARK.
“You can’t escape the fact that one person in this was violating the law when it all started — and it wasn’t Officer Hastings,” James said.
Moore’s mother, Sylvia Perkins, had said shortly after the shooting, however: “It’s a kid. It’s a 15-year-old kid. I don’t care what he was out there doing.”
Moore’s family declined to talk with Channel 4 yesterday. No civil legal action has been filed to date over the youth’s death. When he died, he faced an adult charge in a carjacking. The car he was driving also was stolen, though Hastings didn’t know that at the time.
James wasn’t ready to accept investigators’ finding that the car had stopped or was in reverse, rather than driving toward Hastings at a high speed. From Channel 4:
“There’s questions about it, if the car was in reverse. I believe it was found in neutral. There’s a theory of he was in reverse, but I don’t think it’s an absolute fact,” he said. “And as far as what investigators think or what they think things seem to indicate or like like doesn’t really matter. Because they’re not going to be asked what do you think happened. The people who are going to be asked that are the jurors.”
According to James, the affidavit also only explains the best-case scenario for the state. He won’t be able to view all of the evidence until a motion for discovery is filed, and getting all the information could take upward of 60 days.
James said in this case right now, there’s only one undisputed fact.
“Just like everyone else, Officer Hastings is presumed innocent until he’s proved otherwise,” James said.
Channel 4 also asked James about Hastings’ work record, which includes multiple suspensions and critical comments from supervisors about his judgment and, at times, honesty.
KARK asked James if Hastings’ history would impact jurors in considering Hastings’ reaction in this case.
” Well, it shouldn’t. The reality is as a police officer those things happen. That’s why they have them. You make mistakes, you do things you’re not supposed to do, and you take those punishments that are consistent with what the level of wrongdoing was,” James said. “It shouldn’t be relevant in the trial. I can’t imagine that’s it’s relevant. If it is, I think the jury will see it for what it is, a non-issue.”