FORMER FAULKNER COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY FOUND GUILTY OF BATTERY ON INDIVIDUAL THAT WAS WORKING UNDERCOVER FOR CONWAY POLICE DEPARTMENT
|EX-DEPUTY EUGENE WATLINGTON|
Special Judge Mark Derrick found a former Faulkner County sheriff's deputy, Eugene Watlington, who was fired for using "excessive force" during an arrest in 2015, guilty of third-degree battery on Friday March 10th.
Derrick set sentencing for Watlington for 1 p.m. April 7th in Faulkner County District Court.
Third-degree battery is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable in Arkansas by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
Derrick, a White County judge appointed to hear the case after Faulkner County's district judges recused, heard testimony in the case Feb. 24th.
|JUDGE MARK DERRICK|
Derrick's name might sound familiar, the reason being he was attacked by a pet zebra back in 2015 and the story gained international attention.
JUDGE ATTACKED BY PET ZEBRA
Evidence in the trial included a video showing Watlington repeatedly kicking Harvey Martin, who was being arrested after a gunfire-heavy, high-speed chase from Mayflower to Conway on May 4, 2015. Watlington was not helping secure Martin at the time.
Martin, 47, was treated at a hospital's emergency room and released to the sheriff's office.
Authorities later dropped charges related to the car chase against Martin after they learned his passenger, Christopher Cummings, had forced Martin to flee the police at gunpoint. The arrest of Cummings, who fired the shots at deputies' cars, was not captured on the video, recorded on a Mayflower police officer's body camera.
Derrick released his verdict in a two-sentence letter sent to the district court, Short and the case's special prosecutor, Tom Tatum.
"After considering all the evidence presented I find the Defendant guilty of Battery in the 3rd Degree," Derrick wrote. He then set the April 7 sentencing date.
The letter offered no comment on the decision, though Derrick had said at the end of the trial that he wanted to watch the video again before ruling.
Tatum said late Friday that the ruling was "what I expected."
"I felt like ... the biggest piece of evidence in the case was the video," Tatum said.
The Mayflower officer, Dalton Elliott, filmed the arrest after he joined Faulkner County deputies in chasing the Mustang carrying Martin and Cummings at speeds of more than 100 mph.
Authorities have since said Martin was working undercover for Conway police the night of the arrest, though sheriff's deputies apparently didn't realize that at the time.
|OFFICER DALTON ELLIOTT RECORDED WATLINGTON KICKING MARTIN|
Watch a video of Officer Elliot being interviewed by Faulkner County Sheriff's Department.
There is some bad blood between the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office and Elliot in that he once worked for them and was fired and has since filed a lawsuit against them. CLICK TO VIEW THE COMPLAINT
There was no reason whatsoever for them to Marandize Elliot. Shit move by the FCSO.
Former Sheriff Andy Shock fired Watlington in July 2015 after Shock concluded Watlington had used excessive force during the arrest.
Elliott testified last month that he counted "nine to 10 times" that the 6-foot-1 Watlington, who weighed 310 pounds according to his arrest warrant, kicked Martin with his boot.
Glen Cooper, a Conway police officer, testified that Martin was trying to help police locate Cummings that night. Cooper said Watlington asked him to question Martin after the arrest because Watlington said Martin wouldn't want to talk with him. Watlington then smiled and shined a flashlight on one of his boots, Cooper said.
Elliott testified that Martin did not resist arrest, but three sheriff's deputies disputed that statement. They testified that Martin tried to keep his hands under his waistband and could have been trying to get his pocketknife.
Watch a pitiful video of Martin being interviewed by authorities while in the hospital.
Watch Martin being interview at the Faulkner County Sheriff's Department.
Watch a second, follow-up interview with Martin.
Watlington made a plea on social media for letters about his character to try and get his job back at the Sheriff's Department before his trial for battery began.
We have requested Watlington's file from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards & Training and will post an update when the information is received.