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Jackson Co. deputy demands NEA Report stop covering prosecutor’s mistakes with ominous message
JONESBORO, Ark. – A Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy sent threatening messages to NEA Report on Tuesday afternoon about our continued reporting of the unjust prosecution of a Walnut Ridge railroad worker.
It is one of many instances of police showing resentment toward our reporting of the blatant police and governmental abuses of power. However, it is the first such time a member of law enforcement has sent us an ominous message threatening this reporter should our work continue.
“So before you continue to publicly condemn Mr. Cooper or Mr. Henry Boyce. You better make sure you have never made a mistake in your life.” – Excerpt from message sent by Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Adam Zitzelberger to NEA Report
Here are the messages, beginning at 12:17 PM Tuesday afternoon, March 5, 2019.
Jackson County Deputy Adam Zitzelberger falls under the jurisdiction of the Third Judicial District Prosecutor Henry Boyce and his deputy prosecutor, Ryan Cooper. Zitzelberger’s (since deactivated) Facebook profile listed him as having worked in not just one, but two different counties under Boyce’s purview – the other being Lawrence County, where the police abuse story he contacted us about happened. The Jackson County deputy demanded we stop publicly “condemning” Cooper because, “He’s a great person and a great Prosecuting Attorney.” The statements, which do not correlate, display the complete absence of logic from the deputy. Also, NEA Report hasn’t published a story on the matter since last month.
However, the deputy himself even admits Cooper made a mistake by prosecuting an innocent man to a not-guilty verdict.
But, the deputy’s intentions were clear: stop reporting on the deputy prosecutor’s mistake or else.
“So before you continue to publicly condemn Mr. Cooper or Mr. Henry Boyce. You better make sure you have never made a mistake in your life.“
Deputy Zitzelberger’s implication was that, should we continue exercising our First Amendment rights, we will likely face criminal charges the first opportunity an officer gets to bring them. We tried getting the deputy to explain himself but he shifted blame in his conversation to the Walnut Ridge police chief, who has since resigned.
The deputy then denied sending threats to the reporter from his very same account two messages later. He claimed he was only asking questions. He then deactivated his account.
“I did not threaten you or anybody,” Deputy Zitzelberger wrote. “I was simply asking a question.”
NEA Report is forwarding the messages to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and to NEA Report legal counsel.