DAVID MATTOX: Leaves LRPD.

Little Rock Police Officer David Mattox, whose firing by Chief Keith Humphrey was overturned last week by the Little Rock Civil Service Commission, resigned from the force yesterday.

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He has accepted a job with another police agency in Central Arkansas, his attorney, Robert Newcomb, said. Newcomb wasn’t ready to reveal the agency today. His new chief is fully informed on the Little Rock case, Newcomb said. UPDATE: It is North Little Rock, the D-G reported after we broke the story.)

Mattox is an 11-year law enforcement veteran with about nine years in Little Rock.  Unlike the majority of white Little Rock police officers, he lives in the city, with a child in Little Rock schools. Newcomb said of his resignation: “The biggest reason is he felt he was probably going to have a bullseye on his back with the current administration.” Newcomb said Mattox “fully expected” to be removed from the SWAT unit of which he was a member.

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He joins a growing list of officers leaving a force riven by disputes between many rank-and-file officers and the chief. Past departures include Charles Starks, fired by the chief in the fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire, whose firing was overturned in court but who later decided to resign.

Newcomb cited a recent study of the department that indicates the force is increasingly made up of people with five years or less of experience as officers move to jobs with city, state and federal agencies.

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Humphrey fired Mattox for being untruthful about his involvement in an investigation of a man suspected of indecent exposure to multiple women, including Mattox’s wife. The chief also found Mattox had been too involved in a case in which his wife was involved.

The Civil Service Commission upheld the untruthfulness finding and reduced punishment to a 30-day suspension. Newcomb said he may still appeal the finding on untruthfulness. Mattox also continues as a plaintiff in a lawsuit by officers alleging they’d been retaliated against by Chief Humphrey in actions that amounted to racial discrimination. An independent fact-finder hired by the city concluded Mattox was a victim of racial discrimination, but Mayor Frank Scott Jr. rejected that finding and has refused to release a report done on the matter because he decided to take no action against Humphrey.

“The sad thing now,” said Newcomb, “is how much more damage this administration is going to do to the police department.”

The mayor has vigorously defended Humphrey, who answers to the mayor. The chief’s supporters contend he’s a victim of discrimination by the majority white Fraternal Order of Police. They say the FOP is resistant to several steps Humphrey has taken to reform policies on the use of force and nepotism, among others. The chief enjoys less support on the City Board, where a majority recently expressed unhappiness with a decision to settle a lawsuit over the Blackshire killing with a $300,000 payment and changes in police policies.

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