Arkansas Police Brutality and Police Misconduct
02/07/2006 - Arkansas - A series of arrests involving drugs, sex and the abuse of a state inmate program shocked the small town of Lonoke on Monday, as the police chief, his wife, the mayor and two bail bondsmen were taken into custody.
Police Chief Jay Campbell and the two bail bondsmen, Bobby Cox and Larry Norwood, were arrested on allegations that include conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine, while the chief's wife, Kelly Harrison Campbell, was arrested and faces allegations of residential burglary, providing state inmates drugs and alcohol and taking two of them outside the city jail to have sex, authorities said.
In addition, Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett was taken into custody after an Arkansas State Police investigation regarding Act 309 inmates, who authorities said performed illegal work in the mayor's home.
I'm shocked. Absolutely. This town has never seen any problems like this, said Dick Bransford, a City Council member for more than 20 years in the community of 4, 287.
Chief Campbell, 46, was charged with multiple felonies, including conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal conspiracy to commit residential burglary, theft by receiving and theft of services, according to a bench warrant.
According to the warrant, Campbell conspired with Little Rock bail bondsman Cox to have Ronald Adams arrange for another man, Roger Light, to cook a batch of methamphetamine so they could then arrest Light and force him to help them catch an unnamed fugitive who had jumped a substantial bond written by Cox.
Adams told police that when he tried to get Campbell and Cox to help him clear his own record as a reward for his help setting up Light, Cox threatened him and Campbell told him he got screwed, then refused to see him, the warrant states.
Cox, 61, is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, intimidating a witness or defendant and first-degree terroristic threatening all felonies.
Norwood, believed to have at least been a bail bondsmen at one time, also was arrested late Monday and charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in connection with the allegations against Campbell and Cox, authorities said. Norwood's age and residence were not available.
Campbell's wife, Kelly Campbell, 41, also was charged with conspiracy to commit residential burglary, theft of property, residential burglary and four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
The warrant states that Kelly Campbell entered several homes and stole prescription medications and several thousand dollars worth of antique jewelry. After she pawned the jewelry, her husband contacted a Little Rock pawnshop and told the owner that he had to get the jewelry back, according to the warrant. Most of the jewelry was returned.
Kelly Campbell, according to the warrant, also was charged with multiple felonies and a misdemeanor including furnishing prohibited articles, tampering and escape in connection with the town's suspended Act 309 program.
The state Department of Correction removed five inmates in August after an investigation found that Chief Campbell had used state prisoners to repair his boat and install a sidewalk from his house to his pool. The investigation also determined that the Mayor Privett, 68, had also used the inmates improperly. He was charged with misdemeanor theft of services after having inmates work at his home, including repairing his air conditioner, hanging Christmas lights, gardening and working on his porch.
The Act 309 program is designed to relieve prison overcrowding and provide labor for counties and cities, which use the inmates for tasks such as jail maintenance and upkeep. The state paid the city $ 15 a day to house and feed the inmates.
The warrant issued Monday states Kelly Campbell gave the Act 309 inmates at the city jail a cell phone, marijuana and liquor. It also states that she had sex with two of the inmates multiple times, including at a local hotel, in violation of the Correction Department program rules.
Lonoke police officers told investigators that they could not keep the chief s wife out of the jail and that when they tried, she became irate, and when a jail supervisor instructed officers to keep a log of her visits to the jail, her husband became irate, according to the warrant.
Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain declined to comment on the details of the charges, except to say the investigation had been going on for about six months. She said she did not expect it to end with the current charges.
I don t think the investigation is concluded.... I m not ruling out additional charges, she said.
McCastlain declined to answer any other questions until a news conference scheduled for noon today at her office in the Lonoke County Courthouse.
Acting Lonoke Police Chief Sean O Nale said his department s 22 officers, jailers and dispatchers have guarded feelings about their chief s arrest. Campbell is suspended with pay pending the outcome of legal action, he said.
Right now, we re still in the dark about the specifics, he said.
All the suspects but Privett posted $ 50, 000 bail at the Lonoke County jail and were released, said Sheriff Jim Roberson. Roberson said Privett posted a $ 500 bond before his release.
Roberson said everyone surrendered peacefully. It was difficult. Especially when it was someone who had been on the same team, Roberson said, referring to Chief Campbell.
Campbell was fired in 2000 from his job as a lieutenant with the Pulaski County sheriff s office after Sheriff Randy Johnson stated that Campbell had tried to intimidate lower-ranking deputies into charging more for off-duty jobs. Johnson also said Campbell authorized off-duty employment at a nightclub, which office policy forbids. Campbell lost a federal lawsuit seeking reinstatement and monetary damages in 2001.
Campbell became chief of police in 2002.
None of the accused could be reached for comment. Little Rock attorney Mark Hampton, who represents at least some of the accused, didn t return a phone call seeking comment.
Bransford said that the town had known about some of the Act 309 violations, but had no idea about the methamphetamine, theft, sex and drug allegations. He said that Privett had not called a special City Council meeting as of late Monday. The council is scheduled to meet Feb. 13.
09/30/2005 - CONWAY - A constable-elect was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for an assault on a woman but a jury acquitted him of a rape charge.
Joshua Dickens, 22, of Greenbrier was convicted Wednesday on the felony charges and a misdemeanor charge of third-degree domestic battery.
Circuit Judge David Reynolds sentenced him early Thursday to five years in prison after rejecting a jury recommendation that Dickens be given probation.
Dickens was elected in November to the constable position in the East Fork Township, which takes in the rural Springhill area, between Conway and Greenbrier.
During sentencing, state Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, and others asked the judge to show leniency. Baker said he knew Dickens from work Dickens had done in Baker's political campaign and other activities.
In the trial, Deputy Prosecutor Stephan Hawks alleged Dickens took the woman to a service station Dec. 8 and as they were returning home, he placed a knife to her throat and said she was no good for him.
The 25-year-old woman testified that Dickens slapped and kicked her, burned her repeatedly with a cigarette lighter, threatened her with a knife and told her, ''I might as well kill you and dump you in the ditch out there.''
Dickens' attorney Frank Shaw said Dickens and the woman had argued because Dickens thought she was seeing someone else.
At Dickens' home, the woman tried to call 911 on a cell phone, but Dickens interrupted the call and took her back inside the house and began kicking her. The prosecutor said she was able to escape the next morning and contact police.
09/14/2005 - Sheriff Phil Mask and his chief deputy, Bill Field, are suing former sheriff's Capt. Jim Andrews for slander, alleging that Andrews made defamatory remarks about them during and just after last year's sexual assault trial of former Shannon Hills Police Chief John Brown.
In a lawsuit filed late Tuesday afternoon in Saline County Circuit Court, Mask and Field contend that Andrews' statements "have been the direct and proximate cause of mental and emotional anguish suffered by the plaintiffs."
Mask and Field charge that Andrews allegedly made statements accusing Mask and Field of conspiring to influence the outcome of Brown's trial.
Mask fired Andrews early this year "because he was not going in a direction best suited" for the sheriff's department. Andrews was a nine-year department veteran.
Brown was convicted Sept. 2, 2004, of sexually assaulting his 15-year-old niece. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Circuit Judge Grisham Phillips also ordered Brown to register as a sex offender.
Brown has appealed the conviction and is out of jail on bond, awaiting the result of his appeal.
Mask testified during Brown's trial that he did not believe Brown's accuser to be credible. Field and Andrews did not testify in the trial.
The suit claims that immediately following the trial, Andrews allegedly told members of the sheriff's department that Mask testified as part of an agreement with Brown to help ensure Brown's acquittal.
The suit also states that Andrews allegedly said that Mask would receive assistance from Brown in taking legal action against Saline County Prosecutor Robert Herzfeld.
Accorinding to the suit, Andrews said immediately following the trial that Field communicated improperly with Brown to influence Brown's trial. The suit further alleges that Field helped compensate Brown's attorney for his services.
Smith said Wednesday that Andrews "made statements that did a lot to undermine the credibility" of Mask and Field.
The suit charges that Brown said Mask and Field "acted in concert ... to serve their own personal interests by seeking to change or at least influence the outcome of a criminal trial by illegal means."
"This lawsuit is as much about clearing the air as anything," Smith said. "We want to make it clear to people in the Sheriff's Department and the county that (Mask) is an honest man, that he serves as sheriff and that he doesn't engage in conspiracies to influence the outcome of a criminal trial."
Mask declined to comment, referring questions to Smith.
Andrews was unavailable for comment by press time.
Herzfeld last year called Mask's testimony in Brown's trial "bizarre" and remarked that he thinks "Sheriff Phil Mask has lost his mind."
Herzfeld also said last year that Mask "for some unknown reason had a doubt that Brown was guilty, although the sheriff did not participate in the investigation, was not present for the victim interview and it was his own office that conducted the investigation and arrested the defendant. That's the most bizarre thing I've heard since I became prosecuting attorney."
Herzfeld charged that his deputy prosectuor, Rebecca Bush, called Mask several times but that Mask never returned her calls. But "I've been told that John Brown met (Mask) several times in the sheriff's office," Herzfeld said.
Smith said he has "no idea" what type of monetary compensation may be sought by or awarded to Mask and Field if their suit is successful. "I'm not sure Mr. Andrews has a lot of money to pay a big judgment if there is one," Smith said.
08/23/2005 - Arkansas - A police officer here was arrested Friday for allegedly demanding cash payments for traffic violations rather than issuing written tickets.
Officer Timothy Payne is charged with theft of property, a class A misdemeanor; criminal attempt to commit theft of property, a class B misdemeanor; and abuse of office, a class B misdemeanor.
According to court documents, Sergio Herrera, a resident of Springdale, was pulled over on Arkansas Highway 112 by Payne on the morning of July 30. Payne — in uniform and driving a marked police car — asked Herrera for his driver’s license and registration papers. Herrera replied that he had neither.
Payne asked Herrera to pay $200 in cash for a fine for driving without a driver’s license. Herrera paid the $200, and Payne walked back to his police car and left.
Two days later, Payne stopped Herrera again on the same road and demanded another $200 for failure to stop at a stop sign. Herrera told Payne he did not have $200 and instead gave him $100.
On Aug. 1, Eddie Ricardo Herrera, a cousin to Sergio Herrera, was stopped by Payne on Highway 112. When Eddie Herrera said he did not have a driver’s license, Payne asked him to pay a $100 fine.
When Eddie Herrera responded that he did not have $100, Payne told him to call someone to bring the money. Eddie Herrera called his uncle, Javier Herrera, who arrived with $100.
While at the scene of the traffic stop, Javier Herrera wrote down the license plate number and police car number of Payne’s car. Javier Herrera also insisted Payne write a receipt for the cash payment, which Payne did.
In none of the three reported incidences did Payne issue traffic tickets.
Later, Javier Herrera, his wife Patricia Herrera and Sergio Herrera went to the Elm Springs Police Department to investigate the legality of police officers collecting roadside bonds.
The issue was investigated by Sgt. Steven A. Coppinger, Company D North Area Supervisor of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Arkansas State Police. Payne denied the allegations until after his arrest, at which time he admitted to taking the cash and writing the receipt.
In a press release Friday, Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Robin Green commended the victims of Payne’s extortion for having the courage to come forward. "I encourage anyone else who may have information regarding other acts of coercion by former Officer Payne to contact this office," Green said. "The actions of this one officer are isolated and should not reflect upon the honorable men and women of law enforcement who protect and serve Benton County."
Circuit Judge David Clinger issued the order for Payne’s arrest and set his bond at $1,000.
08/10/2005 - A mistrial was declared in the case of a former Pine Bluff police officer charged with sexually-related offenses involving a teenage girl
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Berlin Jones declared a mistrial in the case of police officer Robert Bergstrom, who had been accused of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault involving a girl, who was then 15.
"This is still an important case to us and we will go forward and prepare to try it again," Prosecutor Steve Dalrymple said Friday.
The mistrial was called about midnight Thursday, after jury deliberations, which began at approximately 9:45 p.m.
"There were a couple of situations that came to the attention of the court and caused the judge to rule as he did," Dalrymple said.
He said one of the original jurors chosen to hear the case was dismissed and replaced with an alternate after the court learned that juror was a resident of Pulaski County rather than Jefferson County, as required by law.
"The jury asked for the opportunity to review additional evidence as is often the case," Dalrymple said of the other problem. "The problem was the defense had prepared a board showing what their interpretation of the law was, and that board was not admitted as evidence. The jury inadvertently got it and took it back to the jury room and the court had to declare a mistrial."
Bergstrom was a police officer for six years before being arrested and fired in August 2003. He admitted to having intercourse with the girl, but said the girl started the activity.
He was accused of engaging in intercourse and in acts of sexual contact with a person under the age of 18, who was not his spouse, while serving in a position of trust and authority as a police officer.
Defense attorney Mark Hampton of Little Rock conceded that Bergstrom engaged in sexual intercourse with the girl and that he was a police officer at the time of the alleged incident, but denied the other elements of the charge.
"We will not concede that at the time of the offense he was in a position of trust and authority because at the time he was off duty, not wearing a badge and was not in a position to use his trust and authority," Hampton said.
Detective Sgt. Danny Belvedresi, who interviewed Bergstrom before his arrest, said Bergstrom told him "he knew at the time" the girl was 15 or 16 years old.
The victim, now 18, said she and other members of her family called Bergstrom "Officer Robert" and he was a frequent visitor at her home. She said she and the others had also gone swimming several times at the apartment complex where Bergstrom lived.
She said she had gone to the apartment with Bergstrom after he offered to fix hamburgers for the family and while there said Bergstrom had intercourse with her.
"He pushed me down on the bed, pulled my pants down and I told him I didn't want it to happen," the girl told Deputy Prosecutor Shana Simmering.
She said she tried to resist and Bergstrom "held her arms down until he finished."
Simmering and deputy prosecutors Rik Ramsey and Karres Manning represented the state during the trial, which began Thursday at about 2:30 p.m. following jury selection that lasted the morning.
Defense attorneys Hampton and Blake Hendrix of Little Rock made much of the fact that although the incident happened in 2002, the girl did not report it until August 2003, and then only after Bergstrom had been involved in a confrontation with her boyfriend.
"She had the opportunity to complain for 14 months and didn't until she was influenced by her boyfriend," Hendrix said.
>>>>>That's one brave lady to stand up and go to court against a accused child rapist, specially when the accused child rapist is a police officer.
06/10/2005 - An Evening Shade man didn't have to say a word five years ago after a Jacksonville police officer questioned him regarding a routine traffic violation, a Pulaski County jury determined Wednesday.
For Michael Clark, the verdict upholds what he considered his constitutional right not to reveal his name, address or driver's license to the officer, who was investigating whether Clark illegally parked his Harley at a Wal-Mart on May 11, 2000.
"This was all about freedom," Clark said Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of parking in a handicapped space but acquitted him of an obstruction charge for not answering the officer's question.