EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to identify the deputy facing charges as Deputy Robert Campbell.
MALVERN, Ark. — One Hot Spring County detention officer has resigned, and another is fired as they are under investigation for allegedly beating a man released from their jail.
The administrator of the Hot Spring County Jail who just started in January 2023 also resigned.
An investigation started Wednesday at 11:40 A.M. when Saline County Deputies arrived at a Highway 70 business outside Lonsdale in reference to a possible assault. They met a man whose face was red and swollen, and he told them how he got there.
He was in the process of being released under what is called a “courtesy release” from jail for a misdemeanor by two Hot Spring County detention officers. As they were uncuffing him, Hot Spring County Sheriff Scott Finkbeiner said the man became violent and started pushing officers. One even fell to the ground, scraping his hand and knee.
The man being released claimed one officer hit him in the face and the other pepper sprayed him. He said when he could see again and stand back up, both were gone.
The incident happened in front of a business with a surveillance camera. Not all deputies have body cameras or patrol unit cameras yet, but Finkbeiner said his agency is currently running an ad in the paper to take bids to change that.
Saline County deputies observed the man was in pain, and he requested medical assistance. He was transported by medical personnel for treatment and then later released.
The Saline County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division took over the investigation and contacted the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office and informed them of the incident, and the detention officers from Hot Spring County responded to the Saline County Sheriff’s Office to be interviewed by detectives.
Lieutenant Darrell Pierce of Malvern and Corporal Robert Campbell of Hot Springs were arrested by Saline County deputies Wednesday afternoon. Pierce is under investigation for second-degree battery, and Campbell is under investigation for third-degree battery. Both were released within about half an hour of booking.
The Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office conducted its own internal investigation, and Finkbeiner said he’s confident Pierce and Campbell clearly violated their training policy and pepper spray policy. Finkbeiner explained whenever you use pepper spray, you have to decontaminate the person, and they did not do that.
Both men just went through a jail training class with the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy at the beginning of the month and knew better Finkbeiner added.
Finkbeiner said both men have worked on and off at the jail for years since the previous administration. He ensured Pierce and Campbell will never work at the county detention center again.
“At this point, all we can do is try to take corrective action. It’s not something we believe in. It’s not something that we endorse. People need to trust law enforcement. We’re trying to do everything we can to be open with everyone. We’re not covering anything up. We want it to be out there, so we can learn from mistakes and move forward,” Finkbeiner said.
Any criminal investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office since that is the location where everything took place Finkbeiner added. The Saline County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation is still underway as of Friday evening.