It has been a bad week for the image and fact of justice in Arkansas, as law enforcement officers continued to commit serial abuses of power. Of course, one poster commented earlier that it is a good week for the people when the cops don't shoot and kill an unarmed mentally-handicapped citizen who has committed no crime.
The buzz is all about Cpl. Jarrod Hankins of the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Bailiff for the Circuit Court. He locked Adriana Torres-Flores, a woman who had entered a not guilty plea to selling pirated CDs, in a holding cell without food, water, or restroom facilities from Thursday until Monday. He says he forgot to call the Sheriff's Office to have her transported and forgot that he had locked her in the cell at the courthouse. Forgetting about people is a passive abuse of power, but it is a common one among public officials.
Then there is Josh McConnell, another of
Former Springdale Police Officer Donald Lee Stevens was arrested as a suspect in a bank robbery this week. Stevens was on probation for a 2004 case where he initially was charged with commercial burglary, theft, and breaking and entering for using keys and pass codes to plunder several Arvest bank machines in
On Monday in Benton County, Arkansas State Trooper Brian Garrett pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and second-degree battery. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of up to six years on each of the felony counts. Mandi Garrett of Bella Vista claimed that her husband physically abused her and was abusive toward her three children. Garrett is also accused of placing the muzzle of his duty revolver against his wife's face after he had been drinking.
Local hero Colonel Winford Phillips, head of the State Police, was backed up this week by the State Police Commission for firing State Trooper Roderick L. Trotter, who abused his power and admitted seeking a three-way sex encounter between his wife and two women in a car he had stopped for driving with expired tags. Phillips said, "It bordered on soliciting prostitution," and that Trooper Trotter's actions were "unprofessional and unacceptable." Trotter's lawyer, J. Leon Johnson who is an Outstanding Alumnus of Harding University and was appointed Arkansas Attorney General by Governor Mike Huckabee, fought the firing and said Trotter's offense wasn't as bad as another state trooper who had sex in his patrol car when Huckabee was governor.
We're still waiting on Colonel Phillips' response to the investigation he ordered on abuse of power by Trooper Thomas Weindruch, who was off-duty and showed up uninvited at a house fire to arrest a newspaper reporter on the bogus charge of "obstruction of government operations," the ubiquitous charge that is used when cops get mad and can find no crime. The judge dismissed the charge back in December, and Phillips directed that the investigation of Trooper Weindruch’s behavior by the Internal Affairs Division be made a priority. Three months with no action hardly seems like it was a priority.
How can people be expected to respect the police when the cops don't respect the fundamental rights of the people?