Friday, September 4, 2009

Cops Exercise Their Muscle in Arkansas

Cops Shoot Fire Chief in Courtroom Scuffle After His Speed Trap Complaints

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A fire chief who went to court to complain about a speed trap in Jericho, Ark., ended up with a bullet in his hip after he got in a scuffle with police at the hearing and one of them fired his gun.

The fight broke out during Fire Chief Don Payne’s second court appearance over traffic tickets in one day, the Associated Press reports. Earlier in the day, Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed. When police issued a new ticket to either Payne or his son, the fire chief returned to court to protest. The scuffle broke out when an argument escalated between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing. Payne was shot from behind.

Jericho residents told AP their town is known for the large number of tickets given to motorists on the main highway there. But the shooting has changed the status quo.

“Now the police chief has disbanded his force ‘until things calm down,’ a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations and sheriff's deputies are asking where all the money from the tickets went. With 174 residents, the city can keep seven police officers on its rolls but missed payments on police and fire department vehicles and saw its last business close its doors a few weeks ago.”

Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley told AP he doesn’t plan to file any felony charges against the officer, who was not identified, or Payne. He said he didn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

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