POCAHONTAS, Ark. – When a Pocahontas police officer tried to stop the wife of District Judge John Throesch on September 28, 2017, she didn’t slow down. Instead, she continued driving for miles until she arrived home.
The events surrounding this traffic stop are why former Pocahontas Police Chief Cecil Tackett said he was forced out of his job on January 9, 2019.
Tackett told a reporter on Thursday that Throesch called him thirty minutes after the traffic stop and was incensed. Throesch demanded the ticket be tossed out, even saying his wife – Beth – should not have been stopped at all, Tackett alleged.
“‘If you can’t show me some professional courtesy, we’re going to have problems,'” Tackett said the judge shouted at him over the phone.
Tackett said this conversation was the moment the judge and he fell out and what led to the former police chief losing his career in Pocahontas.
The Traffic Stop
At 9:29 AM on September 28, 2017, PPD Officer Willie Kimble radioed that he was trying to get a woman to stop who showed no signs of slowing down. This was on Highway 90, near the Jungle Gym Daycare. Kimble’s sirens are heard in the radio traffic, as he has apparently already been pursuing the vehicle for several minutes.
“She’s not acknowledging me,” Kimble radioed.
“She” was Beth Throesch, driving a white 2013 GM registered to “John or Beth Throesch of Pocahontas.” When the dispatcher read this to the officer, there were several seconds of silence before the officer replied with “10-4.”
The vehicle turns off of Highway 90 West and onto Country Club Road. The officer reports the vehicle is going 60MPH. The speed limit in this zone is 30MPH.
At 9:33, Arkansas State Police, called Randolph County 911 to inquire if there was a pursuit and if they could assist.
“Well we have a vehicle that’s not stopping for one of our officers but he never did holler ‘pursuit,'” the dispatcher said.
At this point, the vehicle turns onto Navy Drive, driving to the couples’ address at the 700-block. It’s still 9:33 AM and Kimble signals that all units who are responding can “10-22.” He has stopped the vehicle.
“The officers tried to make the stop and evidently, she wouldn’t stop,” Tackett said. “She continued off of park onto Highway 90 and ended up at her residence.”
At 9:44 AM, Kimble signals to dispatch that the stop is complete. He has written her a “city ordinance” ticket for careless/inattentive driving. She is given a case number of OR-17-570 but it’s for naught because the ticket will never make it to court.
30 Minutes Later…
During the traffic stop, an officer is heard radioing to radio “29” at the range. That’s Chief Tackett, who told NEA Report he was at the gun range when his officers called him and asked him what to do. From his instructions, the judge’s wife was ticketed.
Approximately thirty minutes after the ticket was written was when Tackett’s phone rang, he said.
“I got the call from the judge [John Throesch] jumping all over me,” Tackett said.
The former chief hesitated to say exactly what Throesch said but we asked for specifics. He seemed very certain of the words spoken to him as he quoted Throesch.
“‘If you can’t show me some professional courtesy, we’re going to have problems,'” Throesch allegedly told Tackett.
The term “professional courtesy” refers to the practice among those in law enforcement to dismiss tickets or charges against one another which normal members of society would normally face, but due to professional relationships, those receiving the courtesy do not.
Tackett said he wasn’t looking for trouble. He was worried about issues which could come up between his department and a furious district judge so he said he agreed to let the ticket be dismissed, or “null proc’ed.”
“I was hoping it would all go away,” Tackett said.
But at the same time, Tackett felt justified in the decision to ticket the judge’s wife in the first place.
“I told my officers, ‘if you catch my wife speeding, you write her a ticket,'” Tackett said. “‘I don’t care if I’m the police chief or not. She doesn’t need to be speeding and I don’t play that.'”
NEA Report reached out to Judge Throesch for comment. The number on the city website for his office does not work. A district court deputy clerk said she could not give out his personal number and he did not keep an office phone. We emailed the judge several questions and will post his response, should he reply.
Tackett may have agreed to let the ticket go but it wasn’t enough to make the grudge go, too. Throesch wanted Tackett gone. He got his wish in January, 2019.
The race for Pocahontas mayor was a little over a year away and several candidates were running, including one of Throesch’s friends – Keith Sutton. As one local source said, they were already close but when his wife was pulled over, it made Throesch an even bigger supporter “than most people think.” Every vote counted in this close race, with Sutton going to a run-off election against incumbent Kary Story.
Sutton won the initial election by 24 votes more than Story. In the run-off, Sutton received 89 votes more. 634 votes to 545 votes made Sutton the mayor of Pocahontas. He was sworn in as the new year began. Tackett said he tried being friendly to Sutton but got no where, even after Sutton told Tackett he would get to keep his job.
“I’m sure he was told to drop the ax,” Tackett said. “I went up to him and said, ‘Let me know what I can do,’ but it didn’t help. Sutton came in with an agenda. He lied to me about what he was going to do.”
On Wednesday morning, January 9, Tackett submitted his resignation, ending his 13 year career with PPD. He said he had received word he was going to be fired and replaced by David Edington. Tackett said he didn’t want to lose his leave time so he opted instead to resign. He gave an exclusive interview to NEA Report shortly thereafter and referenced the issues with Throesch.
“Well…I think [Sutton]’s probably got some friends that I’ve ticked off,” Tackett said on Jan. 9. “I’ve always been fair with people. It didn’t make any difference to me if they were a millionaire or a guy just going to a job at Peco. I just always took care of business and never showed favoritism to anybody. I guess I just hurt the wrong person’s feelings that he knows.”