Mayor kept Mercado on force after reviewing tape

Gave verbal warning only for using the word “fuck” on duty

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The mayor of Walnut Ridge reviewed the shocking footage of former WRPD Officer Matthew Mercado assaulting railroad worker Adam Finley the day it happened. He gave the officer a verbal warning not to say “fuck” on duty and kept him on the force.

Late Tuesday, NEA Report obtained the completed disciplinary complaint as filed by Finley through a Freedom of Information Act request. Inside of the file, Mayor Charles Snapp wrote he had reviewed the footage of the December 28, 2016 incident and allowed the officer to continue working as a law enforcement officer with only a verbal warning. He signed it “12-28-16,” the day of the incident.

“Reviewed body cam footage and gave officer a verbal to not use the word fuck on duty,” wrote Snapp.

Despite Mercado escalating conflict with the railroad worker, being unable to discern that a man in a BNSF jacket was a railroad worker, and then physically grabbing him near the throat for “getting too close,” Snapp found only the word “fuck” to be unsavory in the video. It is in handwriting distinctly matching his signature and date.

In addition, the complaint says the policy was put in place on January 01, 2017, not to use the word “fuck.” This is written in different handwriting from Snapp’s notes. It is in the same handwriting as Police Chief Chris Kirksey’s name.

NEA Report was unable to get the first page of the three-page complaint to open. We have requested it to be resent and believe there may have been a glitch on the end of the sender.

Page two states only, “released by Officer Matt Mercado for refusal to submitted (sic) to arrest/obstruction of governmental operations.”

Below is page three:

The City of Walnut Ridge, Snapp, Mercado, Kirksey, and Sgt. Matt Cook, who ticketed the railroad worker for trying to file a complaint, are all being sued by Finley and his attorney, Mark Rees. Kirksey has said he was told by Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Cook to write the tickets once Finley came in to complain. Prosecutors may not be successfully sued but a municipality and its law enforcement officers can and in this case, are bearing the burden for the acts seen in the above video. Finley is seeking damages for pain and suffering, attorney’s fees for defending the charges Cooper pursued all the way to trial, and attorney’s fees in the civil suit.

Despite this, Snapp refuses to answer if he has confidence in his police chief, not responding to text messages for request as recently as the morning of this story.

Snapp has placed Kirksey and Cook on paid administrative leave last Friday but he refuses to confirm why. He said he couldn’t comment until meeting with the Arkansas Municipal League, which he did on Tuesday according to several sources. He has yet to speak.

We asked Snapp specifically Wednesday morning, “Don’t you think your electorate has a right to know? Or do you consider it none of their business?”

So far, no response.

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