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Supreme Court rules police "use of force" open to inspection

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that “use of force” incidents for police officers are open for public inspection.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that “use of force” incidents for police officers are open for public inspection.

The cell phone video of LRPD Lieutenant David Hudson in October 2011 punching a man several times in the face prompted a ruling by the state’s high court.

It happened as he tried to arrest Chris Erwin who later showed FOX16 his facial injuries after the incident outside Ferneau restaurant in Little Rock.

According to a police report released at the time of the incident, Erwin was arrested after being asked to leave a private party at the restaurant.

Erwin’s attorney Keith Hall filed a motion to have every incident involving Hudson released.

"The city would have you believe this is just a good cop doing his job," Hall says. "We now get to color in Lt. Hudson's past."

The supreme court affirming a lower court ruling to make "use of force" records open under the Freedom of Information Act.

FOX16 News searched the documents released by LRPD on Thursday and found four “use of force” incidents for Hudson over what LRPD says is a 35-year career. The incidents took place in 2006, 2009, and two in 2011 both at Ferneau restaurant where Hudson worked as an off-duty officer.

"I don't think it's a ton over the course of a career but I think it's a ton from 2006 forward," Hall says.

In the Ferneau incident last October, Hudson wrote in his “use of force” letter that: "The strikes to the face were necessary to gain control. Once I had control I ceased striking mister Erwin."

LRPD issued the following statement in response to the ruling.

“Little Rock Police Department has complied with the Order and will be reviewing Department Policy as it may relate to the ruling in the future."

Hall says more information on police “use of force” arrests is good for the public.

“It doesn’t allow for nooks and crannies for public administrators to hide embarrassing documents," Hall says.

LRPD chief Stuart Thomas has not made a decision on whether or not to discipline Hudson for the caught on camera arrest.

The trial for Chris Erwin for criminal trespass, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct is next week.
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