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Friday, November 9, 2012

Police Lt. David Hudson suspended 30 days in beating

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 2:55 PM

BEATING IN PROGRESS: A still from video shows, in the background, Hudson striking Chris Erwin outside a Kavanaugh Boulevard restaurant in October 2011.
  • BEATING IN PROGRESS: A still from video shows, in the background, Hudson striking Chris Erwin outside a Kavanaugh Boulevard restaurant in October 2011.

The Little Rock Police Department has released the letter informing Lt. David Hudson that he's been suspended — for 30 days without pay effective Monday — for beating Chris Erwin in an arrest while he was working private security at Ferneau restaurant in Hillcrest last October. He's also barred from off-duty employment during that period.

The arrest was for Erwin's supposed failure to leave. The charges were dismissed.

The letter from Chief Stuart Thomas cited two parts of department orders and rules:

* General Order 303, Section IIIA: "Officers will use only the type and degree of force which may be used to overcome a level of resistance, to control persons who are in custody and/or to prevent escape. Officers will only use the type and degree of force which is reasonable and necessary, based on the circumstances."

*Rules and Regulations, Secions I/6005.00: "Officers shall use only such force as is necessary to affect an arrest."

The letter said Hudson was in violation of the general orders and rules and regulations because the "type and degree of force you used during the arrest of Chris Erwin exceeded the force which was reasonable and necessary."

Hudson, who had an administrative hearing in June, may appeal this to the Little Rock Civil Service Commission.

The letter.

We wrote earlier today about the coming suspension and the length of time the investigation took. We're seeking comments and the police file that led to the suspension. Hudson faces a civil rights lawsuit as well. If a beating of this nature, captured on videotape, over an incident that had no readily apparent criminal actions to trigger it, doesn't merit more than a 30-day suspension, you have to wonder what cops get away with outside the glare of publicity and video cameras.

UPDATE: We've been in touch with Irwin's attorney Keith Hall, who said that while he's pleased Hudson received a suspension in the case, the LRPD's action didn't go far enough.

"I'm glad that they took some action, but it seems to me to be pretty light punishment," Hall said. "If a citizen beats somebody up like that, they wind up in jail. Basically, he gets a 30-day vacation."

Hall said he was "surprised, disappointed and dismayed" that it took the LRPD a year to reach the decision to discipline Hudson. He added that, given that Hudson told investigators he struck Irwin instead of pepper spraying him because he hadn't been trained in the use of pepper spray, "it seems to me that a fitting thing might be to order him to get trained in other methods of detention, but they didn't go that far. So, at the end of this, everything is going to be business as usual."

Hall said that without the video of the altercation of the incident between Hudson and Irwin, he didn't believe Hudson would have ever been disciplined. "Then it's just like every other case where somebody alleges to the police that a policeman roughed them up," Hall said. "The police response is an institutional eye roll."

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