Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody Hiland, the special prosecutor in Saline County on the public intoxication arrest of Saline Sheriff Bruce Pennington, took the unusual step yesterday of releasing further information from the Benton police file related to Pennington’s arrest, though not the police video evidence.
The report puts Pennington in a still more unflattering light. You can read the full account here at Channel 4.
He was even more belligerent than originally reported and some of the account varies from his weepy public news conference on the event outside Denton’s Trotline. Pennington continues to insist he had but two gin and tonics that night, but was incapacitated by lack of food, a long day at work and, now he says, some prescription medication that interacted badly with the booze.
Pennington has said he wouldn’t contest the initial charges of public intoxication and refusal to submit on which he was arrested. Channel 4 now suggests that Hiland might consider additional charges based on the police account. Those filed so far are not sufficient for Pennington’s removal, I don’t believe. The Constitution requires conviction of an infamous crime, a standard that in Supreme Court interpretation has included theft, but not simple drunkenness. Whether there’s a stronger charge in this case that could support removal remains to be seen.
I’d speculate that what’s at work is a movement to encourage Pennington to resign. That would be a proper course for someone who came to this job with a less-than-sterling record as a state trooper and has now further embarrassed himself. It would also be a relief to the Republican Party (Hiland and the local prosecutor, Ken Casady, who handed him the case, are both Republicans), because Pennington changed over to the GOP in a much-heralded news conference that included the shining endorsement of U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin. Not such a good catch, it turns out.