HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Defense has begun on the third day of a Hot Springs 2020 police officer’s shooting death.
In March 2020, Officer First Class Officer 1st Class Brent Scrimshire of Hot Springs Police was shot and killed following a traffic stop.
Kayvon Ward, 22, of Hot Springs, is on trial charged with capital murder, aggravated assault, possession of a defaced firearm and resisting arrest. He was driving the SUV Scrimshire stopped that night for running a stop sign.
Testimony in the trial began July 25 with the prosecution’s case. Defense is underway July 27, with testimony from defendant Kayvon Ward beginning mid-morning.
Ward, responding to a question from defense attorney Bill James, admitted firing the gun which killed Officer Scrimshire, saying he “feared for my life [and was] trying to get away.”
“I got shot after jumping the fence. There was nothing on my mind. I was trying to get away,” he said.
As testimony continued, Ward spoke about his life, including his dating Coraima Hernandez with whom he shared a 2-year-old child who was in his SUV the night of the shooting.
The police report from the night of the incident maintains that Ward ran a stop sign in his SUV, which led to Scrimshire stopping the car. As Scrimshire looked in the back seat of the SUV, he saw the two-year-old riding there without a car seat. The officer then told Ward he would need to get a car seat before he drove any farther.
Ward had given the officer a fake name when he was stopped, then got out of the SUV as Hernandez arrived. Ward fought as officers, Scrimshire and a second officer who had come to assist, attempted to handcuff him, leading to events which resulted in shots being fired and Scrimshire’s death.
“I opened the door to make sure Coraima [Hernandez] was all right,” Ward testified, saying again that he did not have a plan when he gave the fake name, he was just waiting for Hernandez.
He carried a gun “for protection,” Ward said. He also said he was not thinking about the warrant for his arrest when he gave his fake name.
“I just remember jumping the gate, getting shot,” Ward said.
It was after that he pulled out his gun, he testified.
“Murder was never on my mind sir” Ward said to his attorney.
James asked Ward what he thought would happen if he did not shoot.
He would “most likely die,” Ward replied, adding that he shot his gun just wanting officers to get down.
“I didn’t even know he [Scrimshire] was hit ‘til I was on the ground,” Ward said, adding that he never faced the officers directly.
From there, “I remember being in the ambulance and waking up in the hospital,” he testified.
Ward said he did not think Hernandez should be in trouble. At this the prosecutor asked if the reason Ward gave a fake name to Scrimshire and then said “you can’t arrest me” was because he knew he had a warrant?
“Why would you say that if you didn’t have a warrant? Why would you give a fake name?” the prosecutor asked.
In response, Ward talked about Hernandez and how she should not be charged in the incident.
“She was scared, and I highly doubt she was strong enough to choke anyone. I don’t think she did anything wrong, honestly,” Ward testified.
(Video from that night shows Hernandez choking officers.)
Ward, in a final statement before court broke for lunch, reiterated that he did not shoot first that night.