Well some great investigative work by a local citizen & Advance Arkansas Institute/The Arkansas Project has shed some new light on the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Arkansas’ Surgeon General Joe Thompson a couple weeks ago.
Last week, AAI President Dan Greenberg wrote about Thompson’s arrest, casting some doubt on the assumption of Thompson’s criminal guilt:
Thompson was arrested Saturday night because he was argumentative, perhaps because he was drinking, and probably because he was obnoxious.
But drinking and being argumentative and even being obnoxious are not crimes; if they were, some of my best friends would be serving life sentences. It’s not that Thompson was arrested for no reason – it’s that he was arrested for a bad reason.
After listening to it, I realized I had been mistaken to assume that Thompson had created a problem by behaving obnoxiously. Instead, my revised judgment – based on this recording – is that Thompson by and large behaved appropriately before he was arrested. I owe him an apology for suggesting otherwise.
When comparing the audio & the police report, it does appear that there is at least some variation in the reported severity of Mr. Thompson’s actions. Granted, we cannot see what happened (if Thompson really got within an inch of the officer’s face–which, if it had, you tend to think the officer would’ve said ‘back up’ or arrested Thompson then, but he didn’t), but it sure does not sound too incredibly heated, and as Greenberg reminds readers, it’s not exactly legal for police to arrest someone for being stubborn or refusing to present ID:
Police aren’t allowed to arrest citizens here just because citizens don’t want to talk to them or give them ID information. (Of course, police are allowed to arrest citizens for loitering in a public place, and a refusal to supply ID information can give grounds for arrest for loitering, but it is impossible to loiter on your own property, which is where Thompson was.)
It will be interesting to see what else develops with this story. It is certainly a very interesting case and it serves as a testament to the power of informed citizens who exercise their rights to information. Well done.