A bit of intrigue is unfolding at the Capitol after a self-described "squeaky clean" White Hall policeman filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County alleging both his personal and constitutional rights were violated last month by a legislative sergeant at arms and Arkansas State Police troopers.
Court records show the strange story of White Hall officer and West Point graduate Edward Monk began in February 2013 when he sent what's described as a polite email to his District 25 Democrat Sen. Stephanie Flowers asking for a meeting to discuss concealed-carry.
Monk, also a firearms instructor and retired Army lieutenant colonel, did visit with the senator in what one Capitol Police observer afterwards noted was not deemed threatening.
Fast-forward four years to Feb. 21, 2017, when Monk sends Flowers an email seeking a second meeting at her office. Flowers doesn't reply but does print out Monk's request, as evidence submitted with the suit shows, and writes on it: "This is most recent email. I feel this is intimidating & harrassing [sic] considering the history from 2013."
Then, the lawsuit and Monk's statement contend, on Feb. 23 Senate Sgt. at Arms Alvernon Rogers, a retired state police trooper named as a defendant in the suit, asked Capitol Police to run Monk's name through the Arkansas Criminal Information Center Database.
A "John Doe" with the Capitol Police complied and gave Rogers Monk's picture from the database. That same day, Rogers is accused of distributing Monk's ACIC photo to three state police troopers at the capitol. He reportedly told the troopers to "be on the lookout" for a White Hall officer named Ed Monk.
Rogers and others allegedly claim Monk had confronted Flowers in her office about legislation that morning and became irate, which caused her to feel threatened. Rogers and other John Does stated that Monk refused to leave and had to be forcibly removed, the suit also alleges. There was concern he might return.
During this commotion, Rogers allegedly gave Monk's Feb. 21 email requesting the meeting with Flowers (containing her handwritten note about feeling threatened) to one of the troopers.
The big problem with all his purported misbehavior, say Monk and his attorneys Joey McCutchen and W. Whitfield Hyman of Fort Smith, is that Monk was nowhere near Little Rock when all this misbehavior supposedly was unfolding.
Monk insists that except for sending his 2017 email he hadn't interacted with Flowers since their 2013 meeting.
"This allegation by the sergeant at arms was 100 percent false, totally made-up, " Monk told me. "Nothing like this ever happened, any time. I have never acted anything but professional and polite toward any public official. I was not even in Little Rock that day, and had not been for several days."
This attack on Monk, described in the suit as malicious, escalated when the state police notified his supervisor of what was transpiring, who then called the White Hall Chief of Police. Monk was summoned to the chief's office to give a statement about the story being spread about him.
"... [H]ours after calling my boss with the false report, the ASP troopers checked with the Capitol Police and were told the report was false, that it never happened," said Monk. "But after being told by the Capitol Police that the troopers had been lied to ... the troopers did not [immediately] call my boss to correct their mistake. They only did so days later after I began looking into it."
Monk said as he's gone about identifying "the source of the false allegations, ASP and the Senate staff have refused to cooperate, have lied, and have failed to comply with [Freedom of Information Act] requests. The sergeant at arms who made the false report to the troopers is Alvernon Rogers ... and well known because he used to appear regularly on morning TV news. I could not understand ASP's attempts to keep his identity hidden until I found out who it was."
Monk said, "I have an ASP memo (by FOIA request) about the false report written by an ASP captain which [states], 'AV. Rogers was involved.' Yet I have a letter from the ASP director stating that ASP does not know the identity of the sergeant at arms who gave the three troopers the false report ... yet one of those troopers mentions him by name, and an ASP captain mentions his name in a memo without explaining who he is, meaning the captain assumes everyone else reading the memo" will know him.
Monks said Rogers later told him he knew nothing of the alleged events at the Capitol, or Monk's removal, or how the story about him originated. Monk said Rogers did concede he knew Flowers didn't want Monk in her office.
In summary, this White Hall policeman with what he says is a clean professional record, says he was damaged because "a state employee created a totally made-up, false misconduct accusation against a constituent and reported that, as a state employee, to the ASP in order to get negative ASP action against me, which ASP did. I was 'swatted'."
Can't wait for the depositions.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial on 03/20/2018
Print Headline: Were rights violated?