Police Drop Charge, Apologize To Arkansas Lawmaker Arrested For Filming Traffic Stop

Sep 27, 2016

Credit Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

Little Rock Police are apologizing and dropping the misdemeanor charge against Democratic state representative and civil rights attorney John Walker. He was taken into custody Monday for filming a traffic stop and refusing to leave the scene

Chief of Police Kent Buckner now says Walker never should have been arrested.

In a reply to Buckner, Walker said he could not accept the apology in good conscience. He also noted charges against the 29-year-old attorney who was with him, Omavi Kushukuru, have not been dropped and he would not accept the disparate treatment of his colleague.

The Little Rock Police Department says an internal investigation is being conducted.

Last year, Walker drafted a law with former state Republican legislator Dan Greenberg intended to protect the right of Arkansans to record or photograph events in public places, like the filming of an arrest.

Greenberg says the law was written to try to stop what he sees as police misbehavior toward journalists, photographers and other Arkansans.

"I think in many ways this particular law is a signal for government to stop behaving badly. It's really kind of a stop sign to say to law enforcement authorities, 'You shouldn't do that anymore'," said Greenberg.

He says he's optimistic that the law will make a difference.

"I do think it's a good thing to protect people who are doing nothing but watching their government in action. I think over the long run this law that Representative Walker helped pass is going to shrink those kinds of government abuses," said Greenberg.

Greenberg is president of the right-wing Advance Arkansas Institute

This is not the first time Walker has been arrested for observing a traffic stop. In 1998, he was driving with his daughter and two grandchildren and stopped to watch as white Pine Bluff police officers pulled over young black men. Walker parked and walked across the street to examine the encounter.

Walker was arrested for obstructing governmental operations. He was never charged and successfully sued the city of Pine Bluff.