Catching up on developments in the ugly note the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police injected into the runoff race for mayor yesterday.
Roderick Talley, a lead complainant in blockbuster investigative reporting by the Washington Post on abusive practices by the Little Rock Police Department (disproportionately affecting minorities), fled after being arrested for arriving late for a court appearance in Cross County on Tuesday. He’s accused of hitting (but not injuring) a deputy sheriff with his car. That prompted the Facebook post above from the Little Rock FOP, a nasty guilt-by-association jab at mayoral candidate Frank Scott Jr., an African-American who favors an independent review agency for Little Rock police misconduct complaints. The FOP, long led by the white, suburban-living cops who dominate the LRPD, has endorsed mayoral candidate Baker Kurrus, who has expressed concern about allegations in the Post article and said they should be thoroughly investigated, beginning with existing internal options. To date, no city official or police official has called for any action in response to Talley’s complaint and the city is fighting his lawsuit. (Side note: The Arkansas Times had asked Washington Post
Developments since I last reported:
* Talley turned himself
* Scott and Kurrus issued statements on the FOP Facebook post, which no longer appears on their Facebook page. That page is now led by its endorsement of Kurrus.
The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed me. I interviewed for their endorsement, as did the other candidates in the mayoral race. The FOP supports our police officers and their families, as do I. I have no control over any of their messaging or what they choose to post.
I have asked the Fraternal Order of the Police to pull down the controversial post which has caused a great deal of discussion. The decision to do so, or not, will lie with the FOP. My fervent wish for our city is for its leaders to consider carefully the actions which we take, so that we can heal our city, and build a better future.
Here’s what attorney Mike Laux said about Talley’s situation.
Tonight, at approximately 9:00 p.m., CST, Roderick Talley surrendered himself to authorities with the Cross County Sheriff’s Office in Wynne, Arkansas, prepared to accept responsibility for his unfortunate actions in fleeing from the courthouse yesterday morning and but also eager to set the record straight.
In the past 24 plus hours, there has been a flurry of false, misleading and inaccurate reports attempting unsuccessfully to paint Mr. Talley as hardened criminal intending to injure police officers as he fled from the courthouse. Some reports have falsely stated that Mr. Talley: 1) drove his car over a deputy; 2) drove over two deputies; 3) stole the car; 4) abandoned a stolen car in a nearby field with the keys in the ignition; 5) had accomplice assistance fleeing from the jail; and 6) other miscellaneous inaccuracies. None of these reports is true. We believe these inaccurate reports were generated by the authorities in order to impugn Mr. Talley’s character and damage his recent civil rights lawsuit.
What is true is that Mr. Talley, who has been under an enormous amount of stress related to the lawsuit and other matters, did in fact flee from the Cross Co. courthouse when deputies tried to arrest him for failure to appear (more accurately, failure to appear on time) for a court hearing. As he was being led away–feeling the walls closing in on him–Mr. Talley became fearful for his safety and naively ran away. He entered the car he arrived in (a rental) and drove away from the scene. A deputy attempted to stop him from driving away by putting his hands and possibly his torso on the hood of the rental car. As this officer slid around on the hood, he began to maneuver himself toward the driver side of the hood on the left side of the car. At this point, Mr. Talley put the car in drive, and pulled away in the opposite direction, to the right. The deputy then slid off the car and fell to the ground. As we stated yesterday, we believe that Mr. Talley may have been treated differently and more harshly by authorities in retaliation for his lawsuit against the LRPD prior to his fleeing the scene. Regardless, while Mr. Talley’s desperate actions were perhaps understandable given the unique circumstances (especially for African-Americans in the Arkansas criminal justice system), they were nonetheless unlawful, ill-advised and reckless. We do not condone these actions.
The criminal defense attorney whom we arranged to accompany Mr. Talley into the jail this evening has reported to us that he expressed Mr. Talley’s safety concerns to the Cross Co. jailers and has been assured that Mr. Talley will be placed in a less-populated area of the jail and they have all but guaranteed that he will not be harmed by anyone in the jail, including staff. We are thankful for these assurances.
Finally, we have learned that surveillance cameras in the parking lot and other cameras have captured all pertinent footage of the event. We are in the process of requesting those videos, which we believe will support Mr. Talley’s rendition. We might add that the Cross Co. authorities have dialed back the intensity of some of their initial statements describing the event. We wonder if they have had an opportunity to review the video from the cameras since those initial statements and now realize that the footage does not support those initial statements. We shall see.
Mr. Talley is extremely remorseful for his actions, and very embarrassed by what he has done. We will provide additional statements on the matter tomorrow, November 16.
EDITORIAL: The LRPD is infected by racism and vests too much power in the FOP, long a force for ill in its protection of bad apples in the LRPD barrel. The last chief, Kenton Buckner, threw in with the FOP for political reasons and provided no resistance to, for example, the no-knock explosive and often worthless activities of the SWAT drug unit. Kurrus promises to take charge as mayor of the chief selection process from the city manager. He promises not to tolerate illegal tactics and racial prejudice. Scott speaks from experience in decrying LR cop tactics and the racism that has permeated it for the 46 years I”ve lived in Little Rock. We encourage the FOP by giving financial incentives to cops to flee to suburban homes rather than live in the city they protect. They defend suburban living because of crime and their low view of the city schools.