JONESBORO — The civil trial between the estate of Christopher Grant Finley and Jonesboro police officer Heath Loggains and the City of Jonesboro has been settled, according to court documents.
The estate’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice by federal Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. His order stated the court retains jurisdiction until Aug. 6 to enforce the parties’ settlement.
Chris Finley, father of Christopher Grant Finley, claims officer Loggains used excessive force when he fired multiple gunshots inside his son’s home on Walnut Street on April 14, 2015, killing his son. The lawsuit was filed in May 2018.
Because of contradictory testimony about the circumstances before Finley died, Marshall refused to decide whether Loggains was entitled to qualified immunity, which usually prevents government officials, including police officers, from being held individually liable for illegal acts.
“These disputes prevent the Court from making a final ruling on qualified immunity until a jury decides what actually happened,” Marshall wrote on Feb. 22.
Paul James, attorney for the plaintiffs, said a confidential agreement prevented him from specifically commenting on it. He said the plaintiffs didn’t file the lawsuit for monetary reasons, but wanted answers to what happened to Grant Finley.
“The defendants and the family came to a resolution,” James said.
Attempts to reach the defendants’ attorney, Burt Newell of Hot Springs, were unsuccessful on Friday.
Police said they were looking to arrest Grant Finley, 31, because of a complaint police received from a 26-year-old woman the day before. She told police Finley attacked her and held her captive because “she was not cleaning the house fast enough,” the police report said.
Detectives sent out an email to all officers to try to arrest Finley for the assault. A short time later, an officer in the warrants division told fellow officers by email that Finley had recently been before a judge, who ordered Finley screened for admission to a mental health facility.
Loggains claimed in pretrial testimony, known as a deposition, that he didn’t recall receiving that second email about Finley’s mental health, but he was aware of habitual drug use and erratic behavior.
Loggains began his shift at 10 p.m. Loggains and two other officers decided – apparently without supervisors’ knowledge – to do a stakeout, intending to arrest Finley if he came out of the house. While Loggains hid in the bushes in front of the house, one officer was sitting in his patrol car down the street and another officer watched the back of the house.
As the officers watched, a friend of Finley’s arrived and Finley came outside to talk. But the friend, Kevin Jackson, testified he told Finley police were in the area, and warned he needed to go back inside. Jackson said Finley waved his machete around and said, “they can’t hold me.”
As the judge explained in his order, Loggains didn’t see the machete or hear the conversation, but “sprang from the bushes, and ran toward Finley, calling him by name and yelling for him to get on the ground.” Finley managed to get inside and shut the door.
Jackson, Finley’s friend, claimed Finley slammed and dead-bolted his front door. Jackson claimed Loggains, unable to open the door, stepped back, pulled his pistol and fired 14 shots through the door.
Loggains claimed he kicked the door several times and got it open “a foot or so.”
“He and Finley were so close, he says, they were breathing the same air,” the judge wrote.
Loggains got his arm inside the door and Finley struck Loggains’s arm with the blunt side. That’s when Loggains contends he fired the shots.
Marshall said the circumstances presented a standoff, not imminent danger, or there was imminent danger and Loggains was justified in shooting Finley.