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Sheriff Speaks Out About Arrest & Why Man Was Released Minutes Later

The St. Francis Sheriff responds to the release of a liquor store owner who shot at a man he says was stealing from an SUV.
HUGHES, AR- An Arkansas police chief and his county sheriff are at odds over an arrest the Sheriff says should've never happened. We first told you last week about a Hughes liquor store owner released from jail minutes after his arrest for shooting a man.

St. Francis Sheriff Bobby May told KARK 4's Susanne Brunner the store owner had the right to protect his property, when he shot a man he says was stealing from his SUV. The Sheriff says the shooter was released because the Hughes Police Department didn't file the right paperwork.

"It was just a complete mess up," says Bobby May, St. Francis County Sheriff.

Hughes Police arrested Tim Leslie for shooting a man in the leg outside his liquor store. Sheriff May calls it a false arrest, since police never got a warrant.

"What McCluskey actually did was kidnap this man because he had no legal right to arrest him," says Sheriff May.

Hughes Police Chief Dustin McCluskey argues he filed the proper paperwork and can make a warrantless arrest by law. McCluskey says he's still waiting for Sheriff May to contact him for an explanation on Leslie's early release.

"If you want to put your city in a multi-million dollar false arrest suit, you go ahead," says Sheriff May.

But Sheriff May says he's not taking the risk for his county. While Chief McCluskey wanted Leslie behind bars, the Sheriff's Office is going after the man Leslie shot, Eric Hatton, for trying to steal liquor from Leslie's SUV.

The Sheriff's Office released pages of Hatton's booking records, but as for Leslie's record, Sheriff May says he's clean as a whistle and the arrest we saw on their website last Friday was a mistake and thrown out.

"He's a veteran of the Marine Corp, well respected business man, well respected family man and he wants to arrest a good guy? Put a good guy in jail and let a thug like this walk the streets?" says Sheriff May.

The Sheriff's Office took over the investigation and found Leslie was justified in the shooting. But without retrieving evidence from Hughes Police, we asked if this investigation is in fact "incomplete."

"Mr. Leslie freely admits he shot at the man but down at his feet, he's admitted all that. Witnesses confirmed his statement. So as far as we're concerned what other evidence could there be?" says Sheriff May.

Hughes Police are investigating the nine shell casings they say came from Leslie's gun. Meanwhile, the St. Francis County Sheriff is looking past Leslie and trying to arrest Eric Hatton, the man who was shot.

To keep up with Susanne Brunner's reports, "Like" her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter
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