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WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The first settlement offer has been made – and rejected – in the Walnut Ridge railroad worker abuse case.
Attorney Mark Rees, representing plaintiff Adam Finley, confirmed to NEA Report on Sunday an offer had been made and rejected. Rees did not confirm the specific amount on the record. He said he was preparing to send discovery requests to the city, the former officer in the video below, and the former police chief, who ticketed the plaintiff for filing a complaint with the city.
Discovery must be completed by June. Trial is set for November, Rees said. He expects the case to be resolved – one way or another – by the end of 2019.
The Full Background
The late 2017 traffic stop, obtained and published in 2018, shows BNSF employee Adam Finley stopped in traffic in an unmarked truck by a Walnut Ridge police officer. Finley’s normal work vehicle was in the shop but his tools and uniform were still a dead giveaway of why he was working in the railroad building. However, WRPD Officer Matthew Mercado, who has since left the police force, suspected Finley of having ulterior motives and continued the stop long after most have considered reasonable.
At a certain point, as the video shows, the stop was no longer about Finley being a suspect. It was about Finley not showing enough respect to the officer. When the officer is eventually fed up with his defiance, Finley is assaulted on camera, handcuffed, threatened with being tased, and eventually released. The officer even comments about how Finley shouldn’t attempt to file a complaint over this.
Finley was furious. He did go to the WRPD HQ to file a complaint. Police Chief Chris Kirksey, who was forced to resign over this, ordered Finley to be written two citations. The tickets were for refusal to submit and obstructing governmental operations. Kirksey told his then-wife Finley had lied to her and been in the wrong – but she never saw the video. They ended up divorcing with both telling a reporter this was a big factor.
Stunningly, Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Cooper pursued the false charges to court. Judge Adam Weeks threw the charges out but the effort by the city government was already knee-deep. They attempted to falsely charge the victim in this case and it forced him to hire an attorney – Mark Rees and Rees Law Firm in Jonesboro.
Rees said to NEA Report in 2018 that the city had made this situation one that left he and his client no choice to to file a civil rights lawsuit. Finley had to pay an attorney to defend himself from false charges. Should he be left with the bill? Rees – and thousands of others who have seen the viral story – say no.
Despite the video showing clear wrong by Walnut Ridge, and subsequent videos obtained by NEA Report showing the city government railroading the worker with false charges, city leaders continued the denial of facts in 2018 while going a step further: City Attorney Nancy Hall began to malign the character of the railroad worker, Adam Finley, in text messages.
NEA Report revealed her efforts to the public. Hall apologized and told this reporter she realized she had been wrong. However, she has since recanted her apology to the Office of Professional Conduct and claimed these were “off-the-record” texts to an “ex-friend.” This was untrue. Hall was defeated by Ethan Weeks (same family as Judge Weeks) in the November, 2018 election. She now unconstitutionally serves as the Hoxie City Attorney despite living in Walnut Ridge.
Hall is potentially unconstitutionally serving in her position, according to a law cited by Nancy Hall during her effort to prevent Ethan Weeks from taking her role after defeating her in the election.
Even though Hall, Kirksey, and Mercado are all without their jobs they held during the concerted effort to destroy Finley’s life, as reported by The Washington Post (the outlet that broke Watergate), several still hold their jobs despite being involved.
Primarily, that includes Third Judicial District Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Cooper.
Not only that, but Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce vehemently defended Cooper in a strange letter sent out to the press. Boyce doesn’t actually oversee city prosecutions but he does oversee Cooper, who is contracted by the city to prosecute criminal matters. Since our 2018 reporting, Boyce has stopped sending press releases to NEA Report and refuses to cooperate with this news outlet, except when forced to under FOIA law.
Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp was also reelected in 2018, despite being challenged by former Mayor J.R. Rogers. Snapp is also a defendant in the lawsuit. Rees said he doesn’t know if the case will reach a point where he deposes the mayor but he does have questions, should it reach that point.
“What gets me is, the mayor had all of the info and saw the video,” Rees said. “All he said was, ‘Don’t say the F-word.'”