PARAGOULD, Ark. – A misdemeanor battery investigation involving a Greene County Sheriff’s Department deputy has been referred to the district prosecutor for “case review.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington confirmed to NEA Report that the Paragould Police Department had finished the investigation involving Greene County Sgt. Rockie Weber. Reports suggest it was finished sometime Monday.
The investigation stemmed from an incident a short time after midnight Dec. 4, when the sheriff’s department was called to rural Greene County to investigate allegations of an assault involving one of their own deputies. The 911 call said Sgt. Weber had left the scene in a red Dodge without tags. Dispatch advised he was armed. No arrests were made despite the investigating officer, Deputy Jimmy Huffstetler, finding probable cause to charge both Sgt. Weber and his wife Amy with third degree battery. Despite this statement being in the report, the file remained sealed later in the day when requested by NEA Report.
On Dec. 5, the investigation was transferred to the Paragould Police Department for what Sheriff Steve Franks said was an independent investigation. County Attorney Kimberly Dale, minutes before the close of business Dec. 5, released a heavily redacted incident report to NEA Report. NEA Report’s Stan Morris, Attorney W. Whitfield Hyman, and Jonesboro Sun Editor Chris Wessel all informed Dale the file should have been released in its entirety.
Late Friday, Dec. 6, the un-redacted report was leaked to NEA Report. It showed the investigating officer reported he had enough to charge both Weber’s with third degree battery on the night of the call. Despite this, administration at the sheriff’s office prevented charges from being filed and instead referred the case to Paragould police on Tuesday for another investigation.
However, instead of referring the file for prosecution within the county, it was sent to the district prosecutor’s office who normally only prosecutes felony cases. Ellington said late Tuesday he had not examined the case yet but it would be reviewed to determine if prosecution was warranted.
Sheriff Franks told the Paragould Daily Press in Wednesday’s edition that if there is an obvious crime committed, then the responding officers can make the arrest.
The leaked narrative from events that night suggests otherwise.
“I advised Lt. Lenderman with the visible injuries and the signs of a struggle inside the residence I felt like I had enough to charge both parties with domestic battery third degree” – Investigating officer assigned to the case, Sgt. Jimmy Huffstetler.