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Mayor remains silent after signing off on appalling behavior
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – At least three different members of the Walnut Ridge City Council have expressed a desire to call a special meeting regarding videos showing both an unprovoked attack by a hotheaded police officer and the subsequent cover up by which the chief of police wrote the victim two tickets when he tried to file a complaint.
Conversations with several members of the council by this reporter revealed that no less than three have expressed the need and desire to call a special meeting to address the issues as reported here, including the attack by Mercado on Finley, Finley getting ticketed for complaining at the police department and the subsequent prosecution to a not guilty verdict by Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Cooper. This is what forced Finley to hire Attorney Mark Rees, now suing the city and those involved. Rees told NEA Report the city’s unfair prosecution pushed the case to the point of him having to now sue to recoup fees. He said had the complaint been taken properly, it’s likely the entire thing would never have become what it is.
NEA Report has spoken to three council members, all of whom asked to be kept off the record. Although they said they can’t legally converse with each other about a vote, each independently expressed desire to call a special meeting. The last regular meeting was on April 16. However, if three or more city council members agree, a special council meeting can be convened. The meeting can also be called by one person if he so chooses – the mayor.
Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp will not answer inquiries from the press regarding who is in charge of his police department, if he has faith in his police chief, or if he feels the public deserves to know what the status is of their law enforcement department. Three different elected officials have said they’re not being informed of what the status is with the police department. While Snapp is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, he was also fully aware of the video the day the incident happened. As first reported by NEA Report, he found the only wrong in the incident to be when Mercado said “fuck.” Snapp never took issue with the railroad worker being falsely charged for filing a complaint and seems to have been involved from the day it first happened.
It began with an aggressive traffic stop by Officer Matthew Mercado of Walnut Ridge Police Department on Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad worker Adam Finley. It happened December 28, 2016. After asking Finley to step out of the vehicle, Mercado took issue with his attitude and grabbed him and arrested him for no valid reason. The charges, which were false, were obstructing governmental operations and refusal to submit to arrest. The video showed, clearly, Finley did neither. Eventually, after an illegal vehicle search by Mercado, he let Finley go.
Finley went to the Walnut Ridge Police Department to complain. An adversarial Kirksey first waited until he left the room to tell Finley’s wife, “From what I saw, he’s lucky he didn’t go to jail.” After Finley returned to the room, Kirksey repeated it several times. Kirksey then left the room and returned with what he said were orders from Prosecutor Ryan Cooper to cite him for obstructing governmental operations and refusal to submit. He ordered Sgt. Matt Cook to write the citation to Finley.
Now, Cook, Kirksey, Snapp, Mercado and the City of Walnut Ridge are being sued by Finley. And before it ever reaches trial, millions will have already viewed the incident and decided who was in the wrong.
A new video made by YouTuber Chris Voluntaryist, of Police the Police, breaks down even more of the wrongs committed in the video. This was just uploaded earlier today.