Man was then cited by police after trying to file complaint, he says
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – A railroad worker claims in a lawsuit he was physically assaulted by a police officer in Walnut Ridge for simply doing his job – and when he tried to file a complaint, he was charged with two crimes.
Now, the man is suing the City of Walnut Ridge, its police chief, mayor, and two officers involved. Meanwhile, city officials are unable to respond to requests by NEA Report for comment until discussions with legal counsel can take place.
As first reported by The Jonesboro Sun on Thursday, Attorney Mark Rees of Rees Law Firm in Jonesboro is representing the plaintiff, Adam Finley, against the Walnut Ridge mayor, police chief, one officer and one former officer in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Jonesboro division, of U.S. District Court. The lawsuit claims on Dec. 28, 2016, Finley was unlawfully arrested, assaulted, and harassed while working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
At the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 91 in Walnut Ridge, Finley was stopped by WRPD officer Matthew Mercado. Mercado asked Finley why he was working on the railroad crossing. Finley was in an unmarked white work truck but had all of his work equipment on including an orange work coat and badge. The BNSF employee explained he worked for the railroad. This is when the lawsuit says Mercado took issue with Finley’s attitude and asked him to step out of the vehicle.
Mercado then allegedly pushed Finley into the door, handcuffed him, and did so while cursing at him. He was eventually un-cuffed and released but not before Mercado told him he would “ride the lightning,” next time.
Finley went to Walnut Ridge Police Department to file a complaint right after this but that’s when he claims he was once again treated unfairly. He said he was interrogated by Chief of Police Chris Kirksey and Officer Matt Cook and following that, cited by Cook for refusal to submit and obstructing governmental operations.
The lawsuit calls this an attempted by the three law enforcement officers to “cover their actions” by charging Finley with two misdemeanor offenses.
Mercado left the department on Feb. 7, 2017.
On April 3, 2018, Finley was acquitted of all charges in Lawrence County District Court.
The lawsuit describes defendant Mercado as having “vicious propensities,” but also alleges the city and mayor at no time took action to prevent police personnel under their supervision from engaging in misconduct.
Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp was unable to comment on the matter to NEA Report when contacted Thursday, saying only that he had requested the Arkansas Municipal League assist City Attorney Nancy Hall on the case. Hall works as the city attorney part-time and at the time, Snapp had not had a chance to discuss the matter with her to be able to respond to it. Kirksey also was unable to respond.
On Thursday, Rees told NEA Report the matter could have been avoided entirely if the complaint had been taken by the city.
“If they would have taken the complaint, reprimanded the guy, and treated my guy respectfully when he entered the department, he wouldn’t have gotten a citation, wouldn’t have hired a lawyer, wouldn’t have came to my office and would have felt they did something,” said Rees. “But you live and learn.”
The lawsuit seeks punitive damages against the defendants for actions it calls “outrageous and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.” Finley demands a jury trial.
The suit targets Mayor Snapp, Chief Kirksey, former Officer Mercado and Officer Cook in both their individual and official capacities.
HOPE he gets MILLIONS !! burn them DOWN !
Yet again the curse of the ‘Gypsy Cop’ strapped rural depts will take any reject with qualifications no hard questions asked no employee portfolio from previous hires put them out there with a weapon and a badge and just pray no blowback yet due to lack of self held liability insurance the taxpayers foot the bill everytime, now this same pyscho is loose on patrol in Colorado, why do police departments think military vets exposed to warfare are the ambassadors of the law? – How is it the same Blue Line of Truth of everytime covering awful mistakes up the chain of responsibility always has the SAME outcome – a settlement that is packaged not to look like admission of failure but a payout of what it exactly is – wash rinse repeat and people may think oh it’s a small town he said issue but this is exactly why we have George Floyd cases because of attitudes- Now ask yourself how does the United Kingdom have 70 million people and unarmed police ? – because they police by consent to the same standards as Robert Peel that invented policing – time to clean up this charade of bullying and death dealing and needless prosecution
That cop is a danger to society,
let’s hope the whole rotten bunch
the Bad Guys Snapp,Kirksey, Cook, and Mercado “ride the lightning”
the good guys Finley and his missus gets paid $100,000,000
This cop needs to be held personally liable. This is not a matter the public should pay for, though the innocent victim, Finley, needs to be compensated.
I am so thankful this man is pursuing justice and demanding a jury trial! I will be following the story closely, and I am so glad to have found NEA Report! I grew up in NEA. I know how vicious small towns and good ole boys (and girls) can be. But this systemic obliteration of justice is happening everywhere. It takes amazing strength and support to fight it. Finley is a hero in that way. I hope he gets justice and inspires others to fight for it where they can.
… On a different note, I wonder what other assaults were captured on video preceding Mercado’s resignation. How many crimes go unreported and covered up… So many disenfranchised, dis-empowered people out there that don’t have the energy or hope to even file a complaint. What else happened before his resignation, I wonder.
This is so sad. I bet you that officer is working somewhere else.
This should be treated as criminal (what they officials did, not the officer). They basically violated color of law abuse principles. Too bad it’s almost impossible to make a federal case out of this, to make examples out of the sort.
He did commit battery on Mr. Finley when he put his hands on him, grabbed him and shoved him. That’s criminal. It’s beyond professional performance shortfalls. Just because you’re a police officer doesn’t mean you cannot act criminally yourself in the misperformance of your duties.
I watched the entire video of what happened and I was so shocked by the cops attitude toward this friendly guy. My God, this cop could have escalated this illegal stop into a justifiable murder. If the man had been of color or nationality, I shudder to think what may have taken place. The worse thing was the police chief not only side with this rogue cop, he gave the man two felonies just to punish the man who dared complain about his treatment. Our very Democracy is fading away by each of our constitutional rights being violated. And the brotherhood of the “good ole boys” protect each other until video shows the truth. Can you imagine all the cops who don’t wear a camera with sound can get away with?
I saw the video of this on Audit-The-Audit last night. Then I read the news. The apparent dismissal of this case was a travesty. The judge should be ashamed of himself. And the “settlement” was an insult to the citizens of Walnut Ridge and the state of Arkansas. This “officer” is unhinged and should never have been hired in the first place. I mean, this is what background checks are supposed to stop. I can’t imagine how violated this railroad employee felt after this was over, and his complaint resulted in two citations above and beyond the aggravated assault and violations of his first and fourth amendment rights. I imagine he will never trust law enforcement or the court system again.