Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled today that Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey had failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act in responding to requests for information related to discipline of four members of the department.
Rusty Rothwell, Kandice Hause, Russell King and Christopher McCauley had sought records related to letters of reprimand issued to King, Rothwell and McCauley and counseling ordered for Hause.
The suit arises from a claim by Hause that she was owed back pay as a victim services coordinator. She was joined in the suit by her chain of command — King, McCauley and Rothwell — who backed her pay claim.
They said Humphrey began an internal investigation of them that found nothing amiss, but the chief nonetheless disciplined them for “dereliction of duty.”
They said they’d been unable to rebut the finding because they’d been denied their personnel files. They said city officials had discouraged them from attempting to see the files or seeking an internal investigation of Humphrey. The suit alleges Humphrey didn’t want them to see the results of the internal investigation of them because it verged into questions about the chief’s honesty.
The judge ordered that the employees receive the files they sought and said he would order attorney fees in the case.
This is but one of many actions pending against the chief from subordinates over his management style. He’s put it down to resistance to new leadership and also to nepotism in the ranks.
Chris Burks, attorney in the case, counters that the case demonstrates a point made in other cases about the chief’s retaliation. He notes that McCauley is the brother of former FOP President and lead FOP union contract negotiator Jarred McCauley. The FOP has taken a vote of no confidence in the chief. He’s fled a conspiracy suit that names many FOP members.
City Attorney Tom Carpenter responded
The retaliation action was dismissed. The Court ruled that the personnel file information should have been turned over sooner than it was which is consistent with the statute. The fact that the internal investigation was not completed did not make any difference. Even so, the City had turned over information prior to the suit being filed. The Court is awaiting an award of attorney’s fees and costs for the FOIA aspect of the litigation. The City will review the application and respond. Any question about further actions or appeals will have to wait until then.