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— The State Claims Commission has not received a complaint against the Pea Ridge Police Department in the death of Ty Smith.

Smith died Dec. 3, 2008, after he was shot by Pea Ridge Police Officer John Langham. That complaint was reportedly filed by Fayetteville attorney Bobby Lee Odom on behalf of Eiko Sheppard, administrix of the estate of Ty Smith, deceased.

Even if the State Claims Commission had received the complaint, it would have been returned, according to officials in the Little Rock office, because the commission handles complaints filed against state offices and state officials.

The commission's purpose is to "hear and adjudicate claims against the state of Arkansas, its agencies and institutions," according to its Web site.

Listed as the "state agency" is "Officer John Langham" and the "Pea Ridge Police Department."

The Pea Ridge Police Department is a municipal, not state, agency. Police Chief Tim Ledbetter said he has not received a copy of the letter or complaint.

"The first time I had an opportunity to see it was about a week ago when I received a call from a reporter from the Benton County

Daily Record," Ledbetter said. "It hasn't been delivered to me yet."

Van Stone, Benton County prosecuting attorney, said he received a copy of the complaint early last week, but his office has no position on it as it will not be representing anyone in the issue.

He said he did not notify anyone as he saw they were "cc'd on the letter."

Odom was in depositions Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

Odom's cover letter states: "I am enclosing the Arkansas State Claims Commission complaint form. I assume that the ASCC will notify the necessary state parties."

Sheppard, Smith's mother, asks for $750,000 and states in the complaint that the death of her son, "a known paranoid schizophrenic" was due to "failure to follow proper law enforcement procedure."

Langham responded to a call of shots being fired in the 500 block of McCulloch Street the night of Dec. 3. After the shooting, he was on administrative leave with pay until cleared of wrongdoing by the Prosecutor's Office.

Stone found the shooting was a justified use of deadly force; he utilized the efforts of a use-offorce expert, who also concluded that Langham was justified in using deadly force.

News, Pages 1 on 07/29/2009

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