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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2007
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Grand jury clears Hartselle officer
Shooting of armed robbery suspect in hospital parking lot ruled justified

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A Hartselle police officer was justified when he shot an armed robbery suspect who threatened to kill a grocery store clerk.

In fact, a Morgan County grand jury said officer Chip Reynolds should be commended for his actions in October.

"The shooting may well have prevented harm to other officers and civilians," jurors mentioned in their report that cleared Reynolds of any wrongdoing.

Reynolds shot Larry Dean Maples, 48, of Hartselle in the shoulder as Maples tried to escape from Hometown Market while holding a 27-year-old female clerk hostage.

The shooting occurred Oct. 21 in the Hartselle Medical Center parking lot, directly across from the store, which is at 405 Sparkman St.

At the time of the shooting, Maples was out on probation for unrelated charges, authorities said.

The Morgan County Sheriff's Department investigated the shooting and presented its finding to the district attorney.

"We felt very confident that the officer would be cleared because this was a life-threatening event," Hartselle Police Chief Ron Puckett said.

Puckett said it took a lot of courage for Reynolds to fire his weapon from about 40 yards away because Maples had the hostage to his side.

As soon as the officer shot the suspect, Puckett said, Maples and the hostage fell to the ground.

"He was reaching for the gun when he went down, but officers were right on him," Puckett said.

The gun turned out to be a BB pistol.

According to the sheriff's investigation, Maples threatened three employees in the store, including two juveniles.

He took them in the back of the store and threatened to kill them if they didn't stay in the bathroom, investigators said.

Officers were in the parking lot when Maples exited.

He went back in the store and grabbed a hostage when he spotted Hartselle officers.

The investigation said Maples, while dragging the hostage across the parking lot, threatened to kill her if officers didn't back away.

Puckett said the officers followed department policy when he fired the shot that ended the threat.

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