Monday, November 7, 2011

Attorney alleges Little Rock police brutality

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 10:08 AM

An attorney representing two men involved in an incident at Ferneau Restaurant on Oct. 29 released the video above to YouTube and Facebook this morning showing one of his clients being hit repeatedly in the face by Little Rock Police Lt. David Hudson, off-duty at the time.

Attorney Keith Hall represents Chris Erwin, 40, and Blake Mitchell, 44. According to a witness,Tracy Rivers, cited in the police incident report, Erwin and Mitchell and two women entered a private party room at Ferneau and were asked to leave repeatedly, but refused. Seth Baldy, the DJ for the party, told a reporter that members of the party were asked to leave five or six times. According to the police report, Rivers said that when an off-duty officer working security asked the party to leave and the suspects refused, a struggle began.

Chris Erwin Little Rock image
  • Chris Erwin

Attorney Hall disputes that version of events. He said Erwin and his girlfriend and Mitchell and his wife arrived at Ferneau and Erwin recognized someone in the restaurant's private party room, where a Halloween party was underway. Erwin's group entered the room and sat down at a table, Hall said. Not long after they arrived, Hall said Lt. Hudson told Erwin that the room was hosting a private party and that Erwin needed to leave. Hall said Erwin asked Lt. Hudson who wanted them to leave. Lt. Hudson said it didn't matter, and Erwin agreed to go as soon as he closed his tab. Once outside, Hall said Erwin approached Lt. Hudson to ask again who wanted his group to leave at which point the officer grabbed him by the nape of the neck and yelled for him to get up against the wall. When Erwin makes what Hall said was an eighth of a turn, Lt. Hudson hit Erwin in the face seven times. While that's happening, Hall said Blake Mitchell put his hand on Lt. Hudson's arm to restrain him. As the video shows, after hitting Erwin in the face, Lt. Hudson lifts him and throws him into the street. The officer then sat on top of Erwin's back.

Erwin was charged with resisting arrest, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. Mitchell was charged with obstructing governmental operations, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

The video is courtesy of a female lawyer from Denver who was in town visiting friends. According to Hall, it's the attorney who said, "This cop is about to do something really wrong," before the Lt. Hudson hits Erwin, and it's her again who tells the officer, "this is all on camera so you know."

Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said a use of force investigation and an internal affairs investigation are currently underway regarding the incident.

Hastings said any time an officer charges someone with resisting arrest or uses force he has to submit a report. Lt. Hudson filed his report on the night of the incident, Hastings said. The report came up the chain of command to the chief of police, who sent it to the internal affairs division. Hastings did not have a timeline for when the investigations would be completed.

Lt. Hudson, who works in special operations, remains on duty, Hastings said.

"Once I got the video and saw it, as a former deputy prosecutor, I was outraged," Hall said. "If you look at the video, the cop looks like the criminal. It's really bothersome to see what this cop is doing under the lights of Kavanaugh. It makes you wonder what he's doing in the shadows."

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