An Arkansas sheriff’s deputy was fired Friday after Faulkner County police officials said he exhibited “excessive force” in a filmed May 4 arrest following a high speed pursuit.
Faulkner County sheriff’s deputies stopped driver Harry Martin and passenger Christopher Cummings for a traffic infraction before being led on a 125 mph chase from Mayflower to Conway in which Cummings fired gunshots at officers, hitting patrol cars.
The chase came to an end at the intersection of Clifton St. and Hairston St. in Conway and police reports say Cummings was apprehended after a brief struggle while he was still in possession of a firearm.
Martin on the other hand, was forcibly removed from his vehicle after allegedly not responding to verbal commands made by the deputies to exit. He was placed in handcuffs while Deputy Eugene Watlington “engaged in gratuitous striking (kicking) of [the] suspect.”
Officials say video recorded by another officers body camera shows Watlington inappropriately brutalizing Martin “while other deputies struggled to restrain [him].”
“As a result, Deputy Watlington has been notified of his termination from his position as deputy sheriff effective July 10, 2015, for the use of excessive force,” the Faulkner County Sheriffs Department said in a statement.
“In addition to his termination, [police] will move to have Deputy Watlington de-certifed as a law enforcement officer.”
Police say three other officers have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident, including deputy Billy Kenney, but they have declined to identify the other two or say why they were remanded.
The recorded body-cam footage has not been made available to the public.
Police say they will “be working with federal authorities” to determine whether the actions of the officers “rise to the level of a federal civil rights violation,” but the FBI has refused to comment on the case.
A criminal investigation is expected to be completed by early next week, and will then be forwarded to prosecutor’s who will determine whether or not to criminally charges the deputies.
Cummings and Martin were treated for minor injuries at Conway Regional Medical Center.