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2010 West Memphis police shootings

Two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas were shot and killed during a traffic stop on May 20, 2010. Police identified and killed two suspects, identified as Jerry Kane, Jr., and his son, Joseph Kane. The two were later identified as members of the sovereign citizen movement.[1] Footage of the shooting and ensuing shootout with police was shown in a season 5 episode of World's Wildest Police Videos.

2010 West Memphis police shootings
LocationWest Memphis, Arkansas, United States
DateMay 20, 2010 (2010-05-20)
11:36 a.m. (CDT)
TargetWest Memphis Police Department officers
Attack type
Deaths4 (including the two perpetrators)
PerpetratorsJerry Kane Jr.
Joseph Kane


Around 11:36 a.m. CDT, West Memphis police officer Bill Evans initiated a traffic stop on a white Plymouth Voyager minivan that was travelling on Interstate 40 eastbound toward Airport Road.[2] According to a spokesperson for the Arkansas State Police, Officer Evans was "running drug interdiction", and the vehicle had license plates from Ohio. Sergeant Brandon Paudert provided backup for Evans. Upon Paudert's arrival at the scene, Evans attempted to frisk Jerry Kane.

Suddenly, Kane turned and attacked Evans in a scuffle down an embankment into a ditch. At that moment, Joe Kane emerged from the passenger door of the van and opened fire with an AK-47 variant. Paudert ran to the rear of Evans' police cruiser and returned fire with three shots from his .40-caliber Glock 22 handgun through the windows and taillight of Evans' cruiser, in an attempt to hit Kane firing from the other side. He then took cover behind the hood of his cruiser which was parked directly behind Evans' cruiser. Paudert fired four more times at Kane, but missed. Kane then fired multiple shots from his AK-47 variant through the hood of the car, striking Paudert in the head with a ricochet.[3][nb 1]

Both officers were fatally wounded; Paudert, 39, died at the scene, and Evans, 38, died at the hospital. The suspects returned to their van and sped away.[4] Vincent Brown, A FedEx driver from Houston witnessed the shooting and called 911; neither officer could make an "officer down" call.[5]

Approximately 2 hours after the incident, Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Enforcement Officer W. A. Wren stopped a minivan believed to be the suspects' at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.[2][6] Officers Busby and Wren were wounded in gunfire exchanged with the suspects and were later hospitalized in critical condition.[2]

Wildlife Officer Michael K. Neal, responding to the brief standoff, rammed the suspect's vehicle, preventing their escape and saving the lives of Busby and Wren. Officer Neal exchanged fire with the Kanes through his windshield using his patrol rifle. Dozens of officers then surrounded the van, and the Kanes were shot to death.[7] For his heroics, Officer Neal was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the NRA.


The day after the shootings, Arkansas State Police identified the suspects as 45-year-old Jerry R. Kane, Jr., and his 16-year-old son Joseph T. Kane. Jerry Kane had expressed sentiment against federal and local government online, and was accused of doing the same in person. Kane served three days in jail near Carrizozo, New Mexico for driving without a license and concealing his identity. He posted a $1,500 bond. After that incident, he complained of a "Nazi checkpoint". Based on a 2004 conversation with Jerry Kane, Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly expressed concern that Kane would pose a dangerous threat to law enforcement officers. According to Kelly, Kane had complained about being "enslaved" by a judge who had sentenced him to serve six days of community service for driving with an expired license plate and no seat belt.[citation needed]

According to a New York Times article on the incident, Joseph Kane was home schooled and by age 9, could recite the Bill of Rights and carried a toy gun everywhere he went. According to Sheriff Kelly "the child had been taught not to trust law enforcement."[8]

Insurance analyst J. J. MacNab observed that Kane ran a debt evasion business, traveling the country speaking on methods to "forestalling foreclosures".[8] Jerry Kane also posted $10,000 bond (which a judge later ordered forfeited) on charges of forgery and attempted grand theft of a motor vehicle filed in Miamisburg, Ohio.

Although Kane was arrested in New Mexico, he was never extradited to Ohio.[5]


According to the Autopsy, Officers and Eyewitnesses testimony, Officer Evans was shot eight times in the chest, back, and arms. Sgt. Paudert was shot fourteen times in the head, arms, legs, both hands and shoulders. Joseph Kane was shot multiple times in the chest, head, back, and arms by Officer Neal. Jerry Kane Jr. was hit multiple times in the back, arms, and legs by Officer Neal. However, as the officers approached the van, the wounded Jerry Kane tried to fire his AK-47. Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darrell Prewitt fired three shots into the van, hitting Kane Jr. in the neck and severed his spinal cord, ending the gunfire. Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby was hit once in the left shoulder. Chief Enforcement Officer W. A. Wren was hit multiple times in the abdomen.


  1. ^ Dashboard video from Evans' cruiser was the only video released of the actual shooting as the majority of events took place out of its line of sight. Although Paudert's dashboard camera recorded the initial scuffle and the entire shooting of both officers, only the events recorded before the actual shooting occurred were released to the public from its point of view. The details of Paudert's actions were given in an interview by Paudert's father who had viewed the video.


  1. ^ "Deadly Arkansas Shooting By 'Sovereigns' Jerry and Joe Kane Who Shun U.S. Law", by Dan Harris, ABC News, July 1, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Watkins, Tom (May 20, 2010). "2 police officers fatally shot in West Memphis, Arkansas". CNN. Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  3. ^ "60 Minutes Extra: The shootout (Video)". CBS News. May 15, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  4. ^ Bartels, Chuck (May 21, 2010). "2 officers slain on I-40 drug patrol in Arkansas". Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 24, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Noll, Scott (May 25, 2010). "West Memphis Cop Killer Was Wanted Man". WREG. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  6. ^ "Sovereign Citizens and Law Enforcement". Southern Poverty Law Center. 1 November 2010.
  7. ^ "'Sovereign' Citizen Kane". Southern Poverty Law Center.
  8. ^ a b "Man Who Shot Police Had Antigovernment Views". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 22, 2010. p. A8. Retrieved December 16, 2010.

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