March 13, 2006

Officers Kill Man With CP, Then Discover 'Mistake'

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

Update May 22, 2006: -- State Police trooper Larry Norman has pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor negligent homicide in the March 7 shooting death of Joseph "Erin" Hamley.

Norman had been scheduled for arraignment on Monday in Benton County Circuit Court, but his attorney filed paperwork last Thursday waiving the appearance. A hearing in the case is now scheduled for July 17, with a jury trial set for September 26. If convicted, Norman could face a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

SPRINGDALE, AR--Mary Hamley called police around 9:00 Tuesday night to file a missing person's report on her 21-year-old son, Joseph Erin Hamley, who had cerebral palsy, an intellectual disability, and "multiple personalities".

She said that she had not seen him since late Monday, when he went for his usual walk.

What she and they didn't know was that Erin had been shot to death at about 7:00 that morning by an Arkansas State Trooper who mistook him for an escaped prisoner.

According to several local news sources, officers were on the trail of Adam Lee Leadford, 18, who had escaped from a corrections boot camp in Michigan. They were following up on reports of a man matching Leadford's description, when they saw Erin Hamley standing near a highway.

Five officers drew their guns as they approached Hamley, who by then was lying on his back on the ground, and repeatedly ordered him to show both of his hands. When Hamley failed to follow their directions, Trooper Larry Norman shot him once with a blast from a shotgun.

Hamley was pronounced dead a short time later.

It wasn't until 11:00 Tuesday night that they realized the man they shot was not Leadford, but was instead the missing Hamley.

Mrs. Hamley told reporters later that her son would not have threatened the officers.

"He never harmed a person in his life, nor would he have a gun or anything like that," she told KFSM News.

"He never would have come at them, but every time he got upset, his hands would go in his pockets," she said.

Trooper Norman is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the killing.

Leadford was shot and wounded by a Springdale officer about 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, then taken into custody.

"Man shot in police shooting had mental disabilities" (KFSM-TV)

"Mom asks why son killed" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

"Mother of shooting victim says young man was 'harmless'" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

"Death Of Cerebral Palsy Patient Saddens Area Advocates" (The Morning News)

"Leadford timeline" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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Posted on March 13, 2006