BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — A Bentonville Police Officer has been cleared after a deadly shooting earlier this month.
Officer Joseph Brown shot and killed robbery suspect 17-year-old Dominick Matt on December 6.
According to Arkansas State Police, Officer Brown was near Greenhouse Road and SW. Briar Creek Avenue searching for a suspect involved in the attempted robbery of a nearby convenience store. At 11:23 p.m., Officer Brown spotted Matt walking towards him with his hands in his pockets in the area.
Officer Brown ordered Matt to put his hands in the air. When he did, Officer Brown says he saw a small handgun in Matt's right hand.
According to court records, because Officer Brown had not activated his lights or sirens, his dashcam was not recording.
According to Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith, when Matt was approached by Officer Brown he pointed the handgun at him, leading the officer to shoot him twice in the chest.
Court records state that as Office Brown rushed to Matt after the shooting, Matt said "thank you."
Matt was pronounced dead on the scene, and Brown was not injured.
According to Smith, Matt had a suicide note in his pocket at the time of the incident and it was determined that he wanted to die by police-suicide. In the handwritten note, Matt identified himself, apologized to the store clerk, apologized to the officers and thanked the officer who shot him.
Court records state that Matt also wrote in the note that this was the "easiest way for him to escape." He also wished the officer a long and prosperous life ad stated that there was money in his pocket to repay the store for what he had taken.
Matt also wrote that he had smoked marijuana earlier in the day but claimed it had not affected his judgment. Smith says Matt was on medication for depression before the incident and the gun belonged to his father.
The investigation cleared Officer Brown and said he was justified for firing his weapon.
In an interview after the shooting, Matt's parents revealed that he was a "bright, but troubled young man," according to court records. They also told officers that he was very intelligent, but had been dealing with depression and previously attempted suicide.
Court records state that Matt's actions and his note "reveal that he did not intend to hurt anyone in his attempt to end his life" and by apologizing in his note and providing money for the stolen items, he "demonstrated the foresight and thoughtfulness that should have helped him succeed in life."