Brian Chilson

Here’s an update from KARK/Fox 16 on the news conference yesterday about new plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleging abusive practices by Little Rock police in serving no-knock search warrants for alleged drug suspects. These are serious allegations of questionable conduct that, to date, has drawn little concern from city officials.

Civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Ben Crump introduced three more people who say they were unfairly targeted on the word of an unreliable informant and also subjected to unnecessary door-exploding no-knock entries by military-equipped officers.

Candice Caldwell had a security system that recorded police entry to her home.

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In a video shown to reporters, Caldwell, who said her mother had died only days before, hears explosives in the floor below and screams. She begs police not to shoot her dog as they enter her room. Later, she asks an officer who is guarding her why they used explosives.

“I would have opened the door if you all had knocked,” she says to the officer.

“Right, but that’s not exactly how a ‘no-knock’ search warrant goes,” he responds.

Caldwell said the officers were looking for methamphetamine and $100,000, neither of which they found. She and her lawyers say the officers did smash a thermostat — which she thinks they mistook for a camera — and caused about $7,000 in damage to the house she was renting. Her charges were eventually dropped as well.

Here, in a video by Brian Chilson, Laux leads reporters through the video.

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KARK included a defensive statement from John Gilchrist (I gave his last name incorrectly originally) of the Fraternal Order of Police (a supporter of Chief Kenton Buckner, who has generally sided with FOP against criticism from the Black Police Officers Association.)  This portion of his statement is worth comment:

Certain candidates for the Little Rock Mayoral race have gone as far as asking for a DOJ investigation in response to a mere Op-ed piece in the Washington Post. Not an investigative journalism report, but an OPNION PIECE! This is a poor attempt to gain votes during a tight race. 

The article was indeed written by an employee of the opinion department of the Post, Radley Balko. But read it: It’s an exhaustive, investigative examination of 100 search warrants — many of which came up empty. He painstakingly illustrated the dishonesty and or incompetence that marked the vetting process for many of these searches. Also noted was disproportionate targeting of black people. The fact that judges approved these warrants is less defense of the police than it is a question mark for the judges.

We have a problem in our police department. It starts with the FOP, a white-run organization that defends an overwhelmingly white police force that mostly lives in suburban cities to avoid the crime and majority black schools in Little Rock. These officers are even provided free city cars for commuting to white flight suburbs. Buckner defends the practice as does city government. Is there any wonder why some people thirst for new leadership?