Remembering Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans
Ten years since slaying of West Memphis police officers, community reflects on tragic day
[email protected] Wednesday marked 10 years since two West Memphis police officers were killed by two “Sovereign Citizens” during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop.
The son of then-West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert and a fellow police officer were shot and killed Thursday, May 20, 2010, around 11:30 a.m. at the Interstate 40 exit ramp near College Boulevard.
Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans died after being shot by two suspects. Both officers were part the Crime Interdiction Unit. Paudert was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center where he was DOA. Evans was transported by Crittenden Regional Hospital where he died a short time later.
In the events of that fateful day, it is believed a truck driver spotted the two officers down and a white minivan bearing Ohio license plates fleeing from the scene around 11:50 a.m. Area police swarmed the interstate and highways leading in and out of the area.
Eastbound traffic on I-40 and southbound traffic on I-55 ground to a halt as officers searched for the minivan. One driver said the scene was “choas” as traffic extended from near the I-40/55 split west to near Lehi and north on I-55 for several miles.
Memphis police blockaded the eastbound lanes at both bridges to prevent any escape from of Crittenden County.
Bill Sadler, spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said Evans made the initial stop and Paudert came to the scene as backup.
“We believe Evans was shoved to the ground and gunfire was directed at the officers,” Sadler said.
At about 1 p.m., the sus-
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pects’ vehicle was spotted in the Walmart parking lot.
In a well-orchestrated and coordinated effort, police converged on the parking lot, blocking all escape routes. As several officers approached the vehicle, the two suspects sped up making an attempt to exit the parking lot but were stopped when Michael Neal, an officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Law Enforcement division, rammed his fourwheeldrive truck into their van.
The suspects were killed in a gun battle that left Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and his Chief Deputy W.A. Wren wounded. They were both taken to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.
The two men killed were armed with a “long” rifle and a handgun. It was not known why the two suspects, identified as Jerry Kane, Jr., and his son, Joseph Kane — later identified as members of the sovereign citizen movement.
West Memphis Assistant Police Chief Mike Allen said both officers come from a long line of policemen. Evans was a thirdgeneration police officer who also has a brother on the WMPD. Evans father, father-in-law and grandfather were also law enforcement officers.
“The men and women of the West Memphis Police Department are very saddened at this time,” Allen said.
Paudert, who would have been 40 years old that June, was married and had three children. Evans was 38 years old and had two children. Both men had been on the Crime Interdiction Unit since it was re-activated in June, 2009.
Units from the Arkansas State Police, Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department, West Memphis Police, Marion Police Department, AG& FC, Memphis Police Department, Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and Cross County Sheriff’s Department were involved in some fashion in the incident.
Facebook abounded with messages of remembrance for Paudert and Evans on Wednesday, including a tribute from the West Memphis Police Department.
It read, “A decade ago, our agency faced a terribly dark day. We lost Bill Evans and Brandon Paudert, two of the finest officers who would ever wear a West Memphis Police Department uniform. Even as we carry on with the duty to protect and serve this city, we know that they still watch over us from above. Today we honor their memory for making the ultimate sacrifice and take strength in their resolve. We continue their watch. Rest in Peace Brothers.”
Another Facebook page, “Remember West Memphis Polilce Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans” is also online.