Little Rock officers who arrived with guns drawn at the scene of an incident where Capitol View/Stifft Station neighborhood residents confronted two Black politicians Feb. 3 acted in line with department policy, the city's Citizen Review Board decided last week.
But Ryan Davis, one of the politicians involved in the incident who requested that the board review the Police Department's policy, said that wasn't the issue that he wanted the board to examine.
The Citizen Review Board, established last year, is in charge of reviewing police investigations and complaints filed by residents about policies and practices, according to the ordinance that created the board.
According to a police report, state Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, and Davis, a legislative candidate at the time, were talking outside after leaving a political fundraiser the evening of Feb. 3 when two white Capitol View/Stifft Station residents confronted them about being in the neighborhood.
The board reviewed audio and video of the incident, including 911 tapes, according to the motion made by board member Mary Carol Poole after a roughly 30-minute executive session.
"Based on the investigative file that we reviewed, the conclusion is that there weren't any violations of LRPD policy," board chairman Derrick Smith told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by phone.
Smith declined to elaborate on the board's deliberations.
The board will formally inform Davis of its findings with a written statement in the coming days, Smith said.
When told of the outcome Friday, Davis said he already knew that department policy was followed after a meeting with Police Chief Keith Humphrey, but he had wanted the policy itself reviewed.
"I think it was a very weak and convenient way out for the Citizen Review Board, and I have to say I'm rather disappointed," Davis said. "I asked them to review the policy in light of the officers' actions. ... I already understood that to be the city's policy. My query was about the city's policy and not necessarily the actions of the officers.
"A city policy that caused officers to walk onto a scene with guns drawn should be at the very least reviewed if not revoked and changed."
Smith said the board had received a request to review the interaction. A records custodian for the city did not provide a written copy of the request.
Smith said at the close of Thursday's meeting that the board does not have any other complaints on deck but will meet on the first Thursday of next month as scheduled.
Aside from the board briefly going over whether the complaint met the standards for review, the entirety of Thursday night's meeting took place in executive session. Smith said the discussion was closed because members were determining whether an employee had violated policy.
City Attorney Tom Carpenter said he had not watched video of the meeting, so he did not know exactly what the board reviewed. In an email, he said there was a portion of the review board ordinance that directs the board to review a matter and, if appropriate, to send the matter back to the chief of police for further investigation.
He also said the review could be covered by the personnel exception to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
The state's open records law allows for executive sessions "for the purpose of considering employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of any public official or employee."
The review board's bylaws state that meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, and that meetings are to be open to the public except for closed sessions.
Davis said he respects the review board members individually, but he felt that the fact that the review board could hold executive sessions is "a slight violation of community trust."
The purpose of the Citizen Review Board is to build and maintain public trust between the Little Rock Police Department and the public, according to the ordinance that established the board.
In social media posts in recent weeks, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., who pushed for creation of the board last year, cited it among measures his administration has taken to increase the accountability and equity of policing in the city.
At a news conference convened in June amid widespread protests against police brutality, Scott announced that the review board's first case would be Davis' complaint.