Timeline unclear on potential release of Little Rock files linked to leader following Attorney General notice

A timeline for releasing records after a shooting involving the Little Rock police chief remained unclear a week after the Little Rock city attorney said authorities would continue to release certain records in light of the notice. of an attorney general.

In an incident on New Year’s Eve, Police Chief Keith Humphrey fired his gun at an armed suspect, according to reports. The individual was not injured and was later arrested, police said.

Little Rock City attorney Tom Carpenter did not respond Friday when asked by email if he had received any indications that prosecutors or the Arkansas State Police would attempt to go to court to block the release.

Carpenter also did not respond to questions about when the first of the document requests submitted following the Dec. 31 incident might be met.

Officials from the Pulaski County District Attorney’s Office did not say whether they would try to block the release of the city’s records through a legal challenge.

[DOCUMENT: Read Carpenter’s request for Rutledge’s opinion » arkansasonline.com/130tclr/]

Attorney General Larry Jegley and Chief Assistant Attorney John Johnson did not respond Friday when asked by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via email whether their office, or the Arkansas State Police, were planning to go to court to block disclosure.

Jegley and Johnson serve in the 6th Judicial District, which covers Pulaski and Perry counties.

Carpenter sought the advice of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office earlier this month for advice on how to proceed with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act requests Little Rock had received following the December 31 incident.

According to the account provided by authorities, Humphrey fired his service weapon at an armed suspect during a fight outside an Asher Avenue gas station. At the time, Humphrey was patrolling the city, as were other members of the command staff, due to an unarmed New Year’s Eve approach, officials said.

An arrest report for a suspect charged in the shooting describes a ‘road rage incident’ which resulted in 29-year-old Taz Hayes shooting a gun outside the gas station. One person was hospitalized, police said. Hayes faces a first-degree battery charge.

Arkansas State Police officers have been asked to investigate the shooting that injured the person, as well as the police chief’s use of force.

The Pulaski County District Attorney’s Office will make the final decision on whether Humphrey has complied with the law. No decision has been announced regarding the state police’s investigation of the chief who fired his weapon.

Similarly, no findings were announced regarding an internal investigation by Little Rock police officials looking into Humphrey’s actions that night.

Humphrey was placed on administrative leave following the incident, in accordance with departmental practice. He resumed his duties on January 13 with the approval of Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Deputy Chief Crystal Young-Haskins, who served as interim chief in Humphrey’s absence.

[DOCUMENT: Read Rutledge’s response to Carpenter’s request » arkansasonline.com/130lrtc/]

The city refused to release to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette documents such as audio-visual material from the filming and training recordings regarding the leader. Carpenter told the Democrat-Gazette earlier this month that the city was honoring the request of criminal investigators not to release any information related to the incident.

In his January 14 letter to Rutledge, Carpenter said the incident had “created tension” between the prosecutor’s obligation not to taint a criminal investigation, or the person under investigation, and the city’s obligation under the Freedom of Information Act.

The prosecutor’s position, as expressed by Johnson in a Jan. 5 email, was that no information be released until a criminal case was closed, Carpenter wrote.

“The prosecutor has very serious concerns that the release of any information the city has about Chief Humphrey prior to the conclusion of the criminal investigation will create an ethical issue,” Carpenter wrote in his letter to the attorney general.

In his response, Rutledge suggested that the prosecutor’s concerns and desire for no records to be disclosed were “beyond your consideration as custodian” and his authority to review, outside of the exceptions provided in the statute. on freedom of information.

After receiving the notice, Carpenter told city officials via email that Little Rock should compile the requested records, make redactions, and notify the district attorney’s office and the Arkansas State Police of this. that Little Rock intended to disclose.

“If the Arkansas State Attorney or Police wish to seek an injunction in state court, a court of competent jurisdiction will make a decision which, as noted above, is not for the city to make,” said writes Carpenter.