LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Little Rock city official says he doesn’t believe sworn testimony given by two police officers during a Civil Service Commission meeting.
“I don’t believe it. I don’t accept it,” says Little Rock Ward Two City Director Ken Richardson.
The commission heard nearly ten hours worth of testimony Thursday as fired Little Rock police officer Charles Starks fights for his job back.
Director Richardson says he doesn’t believe sworn testimony given by Little Rock Police Assistant Chiefs Alice Fulk or Hayward Finks.
“Any kind of implication or references that the Mayor had any hand in the firing of this officer is maybe disingenuous,” says Director Richardson.
Chief Finks testified the Mayor’s office pressured the department to rush the investigation so, in Chief Finks’ opinion, Starks could be fired.
Chief Fulk testified Mayor Frank Scott Jr., asked about firing Starks immediately after the shooting.
Director Richardson says he doesn’t believe the Mayor had any involvement in the firing of Starks.
“I haven’t seen anything on the radar screen that suggests he would be involved in personnel decisions — that’s not the Mayor’s job,” says Director Richardson.
LRPD Chief Keith Humphrey, who was hired over Finks and Fulk, by Mayor Scott decided to fire Starks.
The decision to fire Starks went against the entire Chain of Command, who recommended Starks return to duty immediately.
Humphrey claims he didn’t have any conversations about firing Starks with the Mayor.
Little Rock Police Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley was the Acting Chief at the time of Starks’ shooting.
Bewley has not been called to testify at the hearing and phone calls to him were not returned.
“It’s a huge shot on their integrity,” says Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Erik Temple.
The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police is firing back against Director Richardson.
Temple says the two Assistant Chiefs are veteran officers.
“Certainly don’t know why he [Richardson] felt the need to comment on two Assistant Chiefs that are very decorated. Over 50 years combined experience between the two of them. I don’t know why he would comment on them being untruthful or giving false testimony,” says Temple.
Temple says Finks and Fulk have never had their integrity come into question.
“They have testified in front of Civil Service Commission many times,” says Temple.
After Director Richardson made his comments, Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter, by email, asked City Directors not to discuss the case
Dear Mayor Scott and Members of the Board of Directors,
I have received phone calls that two different television stations are seeking comment from members of the Board of Directors about the ongoing Starks hearing before the Little Rock Civil Service Commission. Specifically, they would like a reaction to comments about the testimony of Assistant Chief Finks and Assistant Chief Fulk. In the strongest possible terms, please DO NOT make any comments about this ongoing hearing. The City, the LRPD, and Mr. Starks have a right to a full and fair appellate trial on the action by Chief Humphrey. Comments by elected members of the Board of Directors only serve to challenge such fairness. More to the point, and using a military analogy, it is improper “command influence” that cannot be tolerated.
Command influence occurs when someone in a leadership position over a fact finder attempts to influence the decision of the fact finder. It is so serious, that charges and specifications against an individual can be dismissed. The forum in the military for factual decisions is a courts-martial. Generally, in Arkansas it is in judicial bodies – District Court, Circuit Court, the Arkansas Court of Appeals, or the Arkansas Supreme Court – as well as quasi-judicial bodies such as the Commission in this case. As the elected government officials for the City, who have a say in the appointment of the members of the Civil Service Commission, there is a risk of such undue influence when comments are made about evidentiary decisions, the reliability of testimony, the credibility of witnesses, or the appropriateness of a decision. Even how a hearing is being run is a taboo subject.
Please do not make any comments. If you are contacted by the news media, even in response to comments by another member of the Board of Directors, please do not respond. If you have any questions, please let me know.Tom Carpenter, City Attorney
A City Director, who didn’t want to be identified because of the City Attorney’s request, says the Chiefs’ reputations are impeccable and they have both dedicated their life and service to the City of Little Rock.
The Director says there’s no reason to question the Chiefs’ testimony.
The Mayor’s office and Little Rock Police are unable to comment because of the pending case.