The Mayflower Police Department confirmed Tuesday that an officer has been terminated after it was discovered he withheld evidence in a case involving a woman who posed as a tornado victim.
Prosecuting Attorney for the 20th Judicial District Cody Hiland said that officer Mike Winchester arrested a woman for stealing supplies intended for victims of the April 27 tornado.
“That file was turned in to my office and we declined to prosecute due to lack of evidence,” Hiland said.
During the course of the filing, Hiland said, it was discovered that Winchester was intentionally withholding exculpatory evidence.
“Sometimes cases aren’t strong enough to prosecute, but withholding [evidence], we don’t have tolerance for that,” Hiland said. “The credibility for a police officer is everything.”
Hiland sent a letter to Mayflower Police Chief Robert Alcon Friday stating that the prosecuting attorney’s office would no longer accept felony case submissions from the officer after he had intentionally withheld evidence.
“That sort of behavior from an officer sworn to protect his community is unacceptable and will not be countenanced by this office,” Hiland said in the letter. “It places your city and my office at a risk of civil and/or criminal liability and, worse, undermines the trust of the community our local law enforcement has worked and bled to earn.”
Hiland said he couldn’t comment on whether Winchester would face criminal charges.
Alcon was unavailable for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
Read Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.