LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Shannon Hills police officer resigned Monday following his arrest and incarceration in Little Rock this weekend.
Jose Padilla is facing multiple charges after Little Rock Police said he nearly ran over multiple people while intoxicated in a stolen vehicle.
The incident happened Saturday morning on Jessie Road. Padilla is currently at the Pulaski County Detention Center, but this is not the first time his actions behind the wheel have been investigated
In September 2019, Arkansas State Police found Padilla at fault in a head-on crash that left a woman with severe, disabling injuries. To this day, Padilla has not faced consequences in that crash, but the Cross family has.
With a cane in hand and life alert on the wrist, Heather Cross is taking steps toward adjusting to a new life almost three years after her normal life came crashing down.
“It was stripped instantly,” described Heather’s husband Matt.
Heather was stopped on County Line Road, waiting to turn into Davis Elementary school to pick up her then 5-year-old son. According to an Arkansas State Police crash report, Officer Jose Padilla was responding as backup to a call, when he crossed into Heather’s lane and hit her head-on pushing her car into a tree. Now she can’t drive at all.
As Heather described herself, “You’re just stuck you can’t do anything. You have to ask for help all the time.”
Over a million dollars in medical bills later, Heather is on Medicare and disability, Matt switched from engineering to lawn care so he could be her caretaker, and Jose Padilla is untouchable from any lawsuit because of Arkansas’ sovereign immunity law, which says the state can’t be sued in its own courts.
Matt argued, “It allows them to be negligent, get away with it, and then, later on, put somebody else life in jeopardy.”
Saturday, Little Rock Police say Padilla put multiple people in danger when he stole a vehicle almost striking many as he attempted to drive away with it. An off-duty officer noted Padilla’s speech was slurred, he smelled of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot, and he could barely stand on his own.
LRPD arrested Padilla for first-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, theft of a motor vehicle and refusal to submit to a chemical test.
Matt stated, “I put part of the blame on Saline County because to this day they still have the ability to do the right thing.”
In the 2019 crash, State Police submitted their investigation to the Saline County prosecuting attorney to determine whether a criminal charge should be filed based on police findings. Prosecutors never filed charges.
Even though Padilla is in jail now for different actions behind the wheel, the Cross’s don’t call it justice.
“It’s not justice for Heather,” Matt said. “Ending immunity laws, that’s justice. That gives what Heather’s gone through some meaning.”
Our station reached out to the Shannon Hills Police Chief for comment and was only told Padilla resigned from their department Monday morning. The Cross’s don’t believe Padilla should have been able to resign or been a cop at all after their 2019 crash.