Officer involved in deadly shooting new to force | News
ALEXANDER, Ark. (KTHV) - We are learning more about the officer who says she accidentally shot and killed a man Saturday. Alexander Police Chief Horace Walters says he hired Nancy Cummings in January and has received no complaints against her. Walters also said she is not a certified police officer.
Chief Walters says he followed the law when hiring Cummings, although she has not gone through the Arkansas Academy Law Enforcement training. Carleton Wallace, 30, died in the shooting. His family is still dealing with that reality and has many questions about the situation.
"I would hate for any mother to go through what I'm going through right now," says Jackie Wallace.
"If he was a threat, why didn't she call back-up?" wonders his father, Ronald Wallace.
State Police say Cummings told them she noticed Wallace carrying a pistol tucked in his pants and that he threw it into the woods when he saw her. When attempting to arrest him and search him for weapons, Cummings says her gun accidentally discharged.
"I don't want to get involved in the investigation," says Chief Horace Walters.
Walters says Cummings was not a certified police officer, which means she hasn't gone through the 12 weeks of basic training at the academy. Walters says the officer passed the standards paperwork, which includes a mental and physical evaluation.
"Officers can start working immediately once they've been cleared through standards. There's training where she rides with an officer and gets to know the operations of the agency," says Walters. "She's been an exceptionally good employee. I have not received a single complaint of her actions."
But that's not the case for the Wallace family. They are complaining and want to know if she was properly trained to handle a weapon and if this was really an accident.
"If he threw it in the woods, he wasn't a threat. So why did you have your gun on him?" says Jackie Wallace.
The Department of Corrections says Cummings worked as a correctional officer for five years at the Wrightsville Unit Complex. She worked from November 7, 2005 to April 15, 2011. She resigned in 2011 and had no disciplinary actions on her record.
The police chief says Officer Cummings was scheduled to go to the police academy in January. She's currently on paid leave.
Under state law, a law enforcement agency can hire a person as an officer and give them a year to go through the police training academy. Although an officer may not be certified, he or she must meet minimum standards that include being 21 years of age, physical and mental evaluation, and no felony record.
Press Release by State Police:
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were requested to investigate the death by officials of the Alexander Police Department and Saline County Sheriff's Department.
Alexander Police Officer Nancy Cummings encountered Wallace yesterday (Saturday, September 8th) about 4:30 PM as Wallace was walking along Brookwood Road. Officer Cummings stated she observed Wallace carrying a pistol tucked under the waistband of his pants.
According to Officer Cummings, Wallace threw the gun into a wooded area next to the road.
While searching Wallace for other weapons and attempting to arrest him, Officer Cummings's service weapon she had been holding discharged.
Wallace was transported to Saline Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The body of Wallace and evidence collected from the scene has been submitted to the State Crime Laboratory for examination and analysis.
State Police and local authorities have kept Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady apprised of the incident and on-going investigation. A complete investigative case file will be presented to Prosecutor Casday for his consideration.
Questions relating to Officer Cummings administrative status should be directed to the Alexander Police Department.
THV's Pam Baccam is following up on this story and you can also follow her on Twitter @pbaccam.