The Little Rock police department released copies of dash camera footage of a traffic stop that led to the arrests of state Rep. John Walker, 79, for obstructing governmental operations, a charge later dropped.
UPDATE: We've posted excerpts of the dash footage above.
They footage released today comes from four cameras and include an extended amount of filming as two teams of officers — each with a trainee — handle the traffic stop of a car without a license. The driver and a passenger en route to a doctor's appointment had outstanding minor warrants.
Walker walks up during the stop and begins filming with a cell phone from across the street, an activity noticed by cops on the scene, some of whom know Walker. In time, two officers cross the street to ask Walker what he's doing and why. He identified himself but said he didn't need to explain his actions. Officers explained the traffic stop and said the driver was being treated with "total respect." They also said they agreed he had a right to observe.
The conversation grew heated, however, as Walker explained his interest in treatment of black suspects and made reference to police use of deadly force. That raised the ire of an officer who asked if Walker had ever been a police officer. He questioned whether Walker understood the challenges police face. One officer called Walker a "race baiter" and asked if he'd be interested if police had stopped a white person. The officer said Walker had been trying to film police for years and was just trying to provoke.
Film in another patrol car, taking the driver to jail, has audio of an older officer telling a younger black female officer who'd made the stop about Walker: "His main purpose was to be arrested." Walker, he said, had been "a thorn in the side of the police department" since he joined the force.
The treatment of the people originally stopped seemed calm, even amiable. Officers tried to look for a way around jailing of the man who used a wheelchair, hoping to just issue a citation.
Walker has rejected an apology for the arrest and Police Chief Kenton Buckner has said he anticipates a lawsuit over the encounter. The department is investigating officers' actions in the case. The city has maintained the obstruction charge against Omavi Kushukuru (or Shukur). He is alleged to have walked between the patrol car that made the initial stop and the car in which two people were found to have warrants.
A female officer in a later arriving unit said somebody walked from across the street into the scene of the stop.
Michael Laux, attorney for the family of Eugene Ellison, slain by Little Rock police in his apartment in 2010, has written Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley asking him to reopen a criminal investigation of that death. /more/
KARK was on hand Monday night when City Director Kenneth Richardson made sharp remarks in the aftermath of police arrests of civil rights lawyers John Walker and Omavy Shukur following their efforts to film a police arrest. /more/
John Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, and his associate, Omavi Shukur, 29, a young lawyer devoted to criminal justice reform, talked to press this afternoon about their arrests Monday by Little Rock police for supposedly obstructing governmental operations in observing and attempting to film a routine police traffic stop. It was a tutorial on sharp views of race, class and governance in Little Rock. /more/
Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley's office today filed notice in district court that it would not prosecute misdemeanor obstruction charges against state Rep. John Walker, 79, and a legal colleague, Omavi Kushukuru, 29, filed after Walker angered officers by filming a traffic stop. /more/
The Little Rock police department will formally drop a charge against state Rep. John Walker and send him a formal letter of apology. A charge against a colleague will remain,. The arrests followed Walker's filming of police arrest of two other men. Chief Kenton Buckner said Walker's arrest wasn't justified. /more/
Here's a deep essay from Think Progress on how freeways and suburbanization segregated Charlotte neighborhoods and helped create the social and racial divide that exploded in that city this week. Yes, of course, I'm thinking about a parallel with the push by the white business establishment in Little Rock for ever wider freeways. /more/
Today, Rep. Greg Leding filed HB 1959, which adds four words to the state civil rights law to prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, property transactions, credit or the political process on grounds of "sexual orientation, gender identity." The law already protects in cases of race, religion, national origin or disabilities.