Favorite

Brantley: Who'll police the cops? 

click to enlarge Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas image
  • Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas

It took more than a year, but the Little Rock Police Department finally decided a complaint against Lt. David Hudson, who beat a Hillcrest restaurant customer Oct. 29, 2011.

Police Chief Stuart Thomas decided that Hudson would be suspended for a month without pay because the force he used during the arrest of the customer "exceeded the force which was reasonable and necessary."

Significantly, the chief's suspension letter had no discussion of whether Hudson had any business trying to arrest Chris Erwin in the first place.

Erwin had been asked to leave a party room in Ferneau's restaurant where a private party was being held. He left — grudgingly according to some witnesses. On a sidewalk outside the restaurant, where Hudson was working off-duty as private security, Erwin asked Hudson who wanted him to leave. According to Hudson's account, he told Erwin the information "was not relevant." He ordered Hudson to leave (on what authority is unclear). When Erwin "continued to refuse," Hudson moved to arrest Erwin. He pushed him against an outside wall of the restaurant. Hudson said Erwin struggled, but he also acknowledged that Erwin never attempted to strike him. Hudson wasn't restrained. He said he determined that Erwin wasn't going to comply and struck him multiple times in the "facial area," wrestled him to the ground and took him into custody. Erwin's offenses: Resisting arrest (arrest for what?), criminal trespass (of a public sidewalk?) and disorderly conduct (putting his face in the way of a police officer's fist?). Ultimately, the charges were dismissed. The prosecution, in delaying a response to requests for evidence, indicated it didn't have much to work with. Erwin has filed a civil rights lawsuit.

The police department's hand was forced into a rare suspension here because a cell phone video was made when Hudson beat a smaller man as shocked onlookers shouted for him to stop.

Hudson is a 34-year veteran of the force and no stranger to disciplinary reviews. He's been named in 28 department and citizen complaints and suspended four times. He was exonerated by the department four times for use of excessive force. None of those cases had benefit of video testimony.

If a cop beating someone for the crime of refusing to move along isn't a firing offense you have to ask: What does it take to get fired from the Little Rock Police Department? A manslaughter charge finally resulted in a firing recently, but it was of a cop with a long list of past disciplinary problems and suspensions.

Thomas' decision on Hudson sends a chilling signal. Even with multiple witnesses and video, a beating of a non-criminal for backtalking an officer acting as a private security guard is not a firing offense. It gives the public every reason to wonder what happens when the lights are out, no videos are running and confrontations occur in poorer parts of town. It's a wonder, really, that anybody is ever brave enough to complain about the actions of a Little Rock cop. What's the point?

If you were Chris Erwin, or anybody else, would you want to run into David Hudson when he's in a bad mood?

The chief can cover up for bad actors, but maybe not forever. Three lawsuits are pending over fatal police shootings of non-criminals. As far as we know, none produced so much as a caution letter for cops involved or improvement of police procedures for handling difficult but non-criminal people like Chris Erwin and the three men slain. These cases may yet force changes and accountability in Little Rock policing that, regrettably, the chief still resists.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote: "Sounds like maybe some of those descriptors hit a little close to…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Hey Bishop, when did God say "Grab them by the pussy?"

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Well said. I believe that male mentors are another key way to connect our local…

    • on July 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation