Favorite

What took so long? 

Last Friday morning, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas fired Patrolman Josh Hastings.

Hastings had been on leave since fatally shooting an alleged car burglary suspect Aug. 12 as the youth tried to drive away from a West Little Rock apartment complex. He was charged with manslaughter, the first police officer in memory charged with a crime for an on-the-job shooting.

Thomas cited two reasons for Hastings' firing:

Hastings hadn't properly checked the premises of a grocery where a burglar alarm sounded last October and had been untruthful about the incident. Also, Thomas said Hastings violated multiple rules in the apartment complex shooting. The police believe Hastings fired on the car even though there was no immediate threat of death or injury to himself or others.

Officers have tough jobs. Hastings, patrolling alone, heard glass breaking in a parking lot and saw multiple people fleeing in the early morning darkness. Few of us would like to put ourselves in his place. But the police have procedures for such circumstances. They don't include trying to stare down a car with a gun over a suspected property crime.

Hastings will have his day in court. It is hard to imagine he'll regain a police job, whatever the verdict.

He'd been the subject of 18 complaints and served six suspensions. He'd wrecked a patrol car.

How many miscues constitute a firing offense? In Hastings' case, it finally took a manslaughter charge.

Chief Thomas has been a steady leader of a growing department in a violent city. But recent incidents have made me sympathetic to Michael Laux, who is attorney for the family of Eugene Ellison, shot dead by one of two Little Rock officers working private security. They'd entered his apartment without permission. His objections led to an escalating incident that ended in his death from a gunshot fired from outside his apartment.

Laux contends Little Rock officers are more likely to use force than those in comparable police departments. And he says police have a conflict of interest in reviewing actions of fellow officers. In the Ellison shooting, the homicide division employs the spouse of one of the two officers under investigation. Laux's idea of justice is about more than money. He'd like to see a settlement that produced independent review of police shootings. The police will resist. You have to wonder why.

Two officers just settled a lawsuit over excessive force for $10,000. Though officers are supposed to file reports any time they use force (an advancement brought by former Chief Louie Caudell), Officer Chris Johannes apparently didn't file a report on the incident in which the city paid $10,000.

Johannes' name should be familiar. He shot at a car attempting to drive away from Park Plaza. He wanted to talk to the occupants, all black, about their speaking to a white girl. He was exonerated for wounding the driver. Johannes also was in on the roust of Surgeon General Joe Thompson after Thompson objected to the unexplained presence at his curb of a private security guard. The private dick complained to the cops, who busted Thompson. Records show Johannes has reported use of force or been in a high-speed chase more than 70 times in eight years on the force. Isn't this a pattern worthy of official concern? Should six suspensions have been a warning about Josh Hastings?

Tough jobs shouldn't come with free passes. Hastings' prosecution and firing don't explain away Laux's concerns. Not when the force still includes a cop who regularly uses force, shot at a teenager suspected of being rude and busted a doctor on the front steps of his home for, essentially, sassing a security guard.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Kids count, not confidentiality

    The trial for the murder of Isaiah Torres, 6, was a reminder again of a gaping hole in the law pertaining to child protective services.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Fixing blame: President Trump

    Did the press fail? Were liberal-leaning journalists on the coasts responsible for missing the Trump wave among middle-to-lower income white voters with lower educational attainment?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Can we get along?

    he Times production deadline fell before polls closed this week, so I'll look to the past and future.
    • Nov 10, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Stay the course

    I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • And while we're at it, Runner, the Wisconsin recount isn't finished yet, but as of…

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • In fact, Runner, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 million and counting, just…

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Stay the course

    • Thank you Autumn. I agree that we can not compromise an inch on the value…

    • on December 9, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation