There was a bizarre scene in Ericho, Arkansas where Fire Chief Don Payne went to court for a second time in one day to complain about the police use of abusive speed traps in the small town. An argument erupted in front of Judge Tonya Alexander and Payne was shot from behind by one of the officers. It appears that there is widespread complaints against the local police who are accused of doing little else but ticketing citizens for driving a couple miles over the speed limit to sustain their small department.
Payne had just been to court to pay a prior ticket when the police stopped him and his son to give them another ticket. When Payne went to complain to the court, he found seven officers in the courtroom. One of them shot him with a .40 caliber handgun in the hip from behind.
Like other citizens, he had reached his limit. The town of only 174 residents used to be policed by deputy sheriffs but added its own small force in the 1990s. However, they soon found that the officers appeared to do little else than write traffic tickets to pay for their department to the point that residents complain that they are reluctant to go outside in their vehicles. One resident, Albert Beebe, complained that “[w]hen I first moved out here, they wrote me a ticket for going 58 mph in my driveway.”
The necessity of seven officers shooting an unarmed man in court is a bit hard to understand. It certainly makes tasering argumentative people look tame in comparison, here.
Police chief Willie Frazier has announced that he is disbanding the police force “until things calm down.” He has not responded to the torrent of criticism that his department was terrorizing the town. Moreover, no one appears to be able to confirm where the money from the tickets has gone.
Mayor Helen Adams has also declined to answer questions.
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