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TRUMANN, AR -
(WMC-TV) – Police and prosecutors released video of a police officer killed during a traffic stop. Officials say they released it to give citizens a rare look at the courage it takes to be a police officer.
The video contains crucial evidence that helped convict a killer after a Mid-South police officer made the ultimate sacrifice.
As prosecutors spoke about the release of the video, the family of Jonathan Schmidt huddled three rows back, grieving for the Trumann police officer.
"Every time we go through this it opens a lot of wounds," said Schmidt's father, Donald Schmidt.
During what began as a calm, non-confrontational traffic stop on April 12, 2011, backseat passenger Jerry Lard shot Jonathan Schmidt in the face.
It was not the first shot that killed Schmidt. The gunman chased him and Trumann Police Sergeant Corey Overstreet around the parking lot. Dashcam video shows the two officers scrambling for safety.
The video also shows Lard following the officers, taunting them, with a gun in one hand and a Styrofoam cup in the other.
While Schmidt begged for his life out of the frame, Lard kept firing. The shot that killed Schmidt came from his own service weapon.
Trumann Police Chief Henson helped train Schmidt. He said this case changed everything.
"It's gut-wrenching," said Henson. "This traffic stop that Jonathan performed raised a lot of questions for us. Those questions will lead to training and lessons."
Sixteen months have passed. Lard has been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Photos and plaques of Schmidt hang throughout police headquarters to keep the officer and his sacrifice front of mind.
"To lose a child is to lose a piece of yourself, and it's just hard," said Donald Schmidt. "If you would like to lay down every night when you go to bed and see someone murdering your son and then wake up every morning and see someone murdering your son, you can imagine what our life is like."
Schmidt left behind a wife and three kids.
Prosecutors say they alerted his family about the release of the DVD and asked them not to watch the news for a while.
Despite the video being released in its entirety to the media, Action News 5 collectively decided not to air the full video on television nor online. The pieces of the video that did air in this news story were handpicked as to not show the final shot that killed Jonathan Schmidt.