Statement fails to support/mention the “obstruction of justice” charge his deputy prosecutor pursued
Alludes to illegitimate charges as not being a defense for resisting an unlawful arrest
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The boss of the deputy prosecuting attorney who brought charges against Adam Finley, a railroad worker assaulted by a police officer, is now defending the deputy prosecutor’s decision to pursue two charges against Finley. The two charges were not written against Finley until he filed a complaint against the officer.
Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce sent out a statement in response to NEA Report‘s questions early Thursday.
“In response to recent inquiries to my office regarding citations issued that resulted from a traffic stop made by a Walnut Ridge Police Officer I have inquired into the matter,” Boyce wrote. “The charges were actually made by citation at the recommendation of my deputy prosecuting attorney, Ryan Cooper, after having the events of the traffic stop related to him by Walnut Ridge Chief of Police Chris Kirksey.
“I have also reviewed the video of the incident that led to the citations being issued and feel that the evidence justified the recommendation Mr. Cooper made to the Chief of Police. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-54-103 states “A person commits the offense of refusal to submit to arrest if he or she knowingly refuses to submit to arrest by a person known by him or her to be a law enforcement officer effecting an arrest.” As used in this subsection, “refuses” means active or passive refusal. It is no defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the law enforcement officer lacked legal authority to make the arrest if the law enforcement officer was acting under color of his or her official authority. It also bears note that the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, in no way, handles the civil actions or liabilities of the City of Walnut Ridge.”
Worth noting out of Boyce’s quote was the line, “it is no defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the law enforcement officer lacked legal authority to make the arrest if the law enforcement officer was acting under color of his or her official authority.” In that statement, Boyce seems to acknowledge the obstruction of justice charge was false. He conveniently omitted any mention of it in his statement, otherwise. This false charge was what made Finley react in disbelief, after being told once to put his hands behind his back, and netted him the added resisting charge.
In other words, even by someone reacting in shock to one statement made of being under arrest for a charge you didn’t commit, Henry Boyce believes that person should be prosecuted for resisting arrest.
However, Boyce is wrong based on the decision by Judge Adam Weeks, who acquitted Finley of “obstruction of justice” and “refusal to submit” charges brought after Finley decided to complain against the hot-headed officer. Weeks’ ruling came on April 3. On April 5, Mark Rees filed a lawsuit against the mayor, chief of police, and two other officers on behalf of Finley. Prosecutors may not be sued for decisions they make during the legal process.
In addition to Boyce, Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp also released a (second) statement today.
“There’s ongoing litigation with the City of Walnut Ridge on the Finley vs City of Walnut Ridge lawsuit and the city is being represented by the Arkansas Municipal League,” wrote Snapp. “We have no further comments at this time.”