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Reinstated Little Rock police officer resigns, takes job with North Little Rock Police Department

by Neal Earley | November 9, 2021 at 8:05 a.m.
David Mattox testifies Thursday during a Little Rock Civil Service Commission appeal hearing in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

David Mattox, the Little Rock police officer whose firing was overturned Thursday by the Little Rock Civil Service Commission, has resigned from the department to take a job with the North Little Rock Police Department.

Mattox's attorney, Robert Newcomb, said Monday that Mattox had been offered another law enforcement job "where he feels he'll have better working conditions."

Amy Cooper, a spokesperson for the North Little Rock Police Department, confirmed Mattox had been hired as a patrol officer and that Monday was his first day on the job. Cooper said Mattox will have to complete a mandatory training period.

Mattox's termination became a flash point between rank-and-file Little Rock police officers and Police Chief Keith Humphrey, with his termination the subject of a lawsuit against Humphrey and a human resources investigation into the chief and the department.

The incident that led to Mattox's firing in Little Rock began after his involvement in a 2020 indecent-exposure investigation in which his wife was one of the victims. Department policy limits officers from participating in cases where a family member is a victim.

During the appeal the Civil Service Commission reviewed Mattox's conduct and whether it may have violated department policy, such as identifying the vehicle tied to the suspect, providing information to a sergeant and being present when police showed Mattox's wife a photo spread that included an image of the suspect.

Humphrey had accused Mattox of untruthfulness and unauthorized investigation. Mattox's attorney contended his client never intentionally misled superiors' about his involvement in the case and that the firing was unjust.

The Civil Service Commission ultimately chose to impose a one-month suspension instead of termination and to add a letter of reprimand to Mattox's personnel file. Although the commission opted for a less-serious disciplinary action, commissioners upheld the city's findings against Mattox.

Mattox is also one of four police officers who have filed a civil suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Humphrey and other police personnel alleging mistreatment.

In a lawsuit filed in August, Mattox, Lt. John Michael Trent, Lt. Rusty Rothwell and Sgt. Christopher "Kirk" McCauley allege retaliation from Humphrey in connection to the indecent exposure investigation.

As part of the lawsuit, Newcomb -- who also represents Mattox and the other officers in the lawsuit -- sought and eventually gained access through a Freedom of Information Act request to an internal human resources investigation into police officers' complaints pertaining to Humphrey and the department.

The report included an email from Loretta Cochran, an Arkansas Tech University official who was hired in a temporary, part-time role described as a "labor relations analyst II" for Equal Employment Opportunity investigations. Cochran's email leveled criticism at Humphrey and two other police officials for the firing of Mattox.

"Just to reiterate my previous guidance, it is my opinion that the termination of Officer Mattox is a clear indication of racial discrimination, hostile working conditions, and retaliation by Lt. [Brittany] Gunn, Asst. Chief Crystal [Young-]Haskins, and Chief Keith Humphrey," Cochran told Little Rock Human Resources Director Stacey Witherell on Aug. 9.

Cochran said the decision would likely "contribute to a continuing destabilization" of the Police Department and would expose the city to "ever increasing" monetary damages should Mattox or other department personnel decide to sue.

After reviewing the report, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. chose not to discipline the police chief, citing concerns of bias in the report, a lack of evidence and a misinterpretation of the relevant law.

Information for this report was contributed by Joseph Flaherty of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Print Headline: Days after firing overturned, officer quits job in Little Rock

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