A preliminary autopsy report indicates that a Clinton man died from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland.
Devin Pearson, 24, led police on a chase over dirt and gravel roads in the southern part of Van Buren County and then onto Highway 65 last week, according to reports. When officers approached the pickup, which had stopped around Highways 65 and 124 near Damascus, Pearson apparently shot himself.
The incident began shortly after 2 p.m. Nov. 27 when Pearson’s pickup was stopped by Arkansas State Police Cpl. Kip Stringer. Pearson refused to exit the vehicle and took off, dragging Stringer several feet, according to a statement from the Van Buren County sheriff’s office. Stringer was not injured.
Pearson fled, and deputies gave pursuit. The sheriff’s office said deputies met Pearson’s pickup just off Ranch Road and that was the first of several locations where Pearson fired on deputies. A deputy returned fire, and the sheriff’s office said the truck’s radiator was hit, causing it to overheat down the road.
Pearson made his way around the deputy and proceeded to Highway 65 where he was followed by another deputy, the sheriff’s office said. Pearson then fired several more gunshots at this deputy from his vehicle near South Side School while traveling south at a high rate of speed, the statement said.
As Pearson approached the intersection of Highway 65 South and Highway 124, his vehicle overheated, the statement said. When deputies and Drug Task Force agents moved in to stop the pursuit, Pearson turned his weapon on himself and fired a single gunshot to his head, the sheriff’s office said.
Pearson was transported to Ozark Health Medical Center where he later died. Pearson sustained no other injuries or gunshot wounds, the sheriff’s office said.
Pearson had served time in jail and the sheriff’s office said there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
His body and evidence from the scene were turned over to the state Crime Lab. The state police will submit their findings to Hiland for review. Hiland said it was not unusual for Drug Task Force agents to take part in a pursuit. He said all officers respond to a call of shots fired.
Sheriff Scott Bradley said he is "very proud of how my deputies responded, and the assistance of the other departments." However, he said, "This is a very tragic ending to an incident that we must deal with. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Devin Pearson as they mourn the loss of a loved one."