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England officer on leave while dragging incident is investigated

by Alexandria Brown | December 8, 2022 at 11:54 a.m.
File photo

A video showing an officer with the England Police Department dragging a handcuffed man across a street had been viewed on Facebook nearly 6,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.

The video was recorded Monday by Tranena Thomas in front of a laundromat on South Main Street in England, about 20 miles southeast of Little Rock.

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS VIOLENCE, ADULT LANGUAGE

[Trouble viewing this video? Watch it here » arkansasonline.com/127officer/]

Thomas can be heard saying, "This officer has my uncle, Elijah Thomas, and he's handcuffed him, and he's dragging him, and he's trying to lock us up for disorderly conduct, but he has my uncle on the ground with his pants down, and dragging him across the road."

According to a Tuesday news release from the England Police Department, officers were called by a patron of the laundromat to investigate a man standing outside. An officer recognized Elijah Thomas and began to have a conversation with him, the news release said.

"It was discovered that the male had an active warrant for his arrest out of Pulaski County," the release said. "The officer notified the male of the warrant and was awaiting an extradition decision. While continuing to talk with the officer, the male fled on foot in which the officer gave chase."

In the video, Tranena Thomas questions the existence of the arrest warrant: "How he got a warrant? They just let him out of jail? He just got out of Lonoke County."

The officer responds with, "That's not on me, that's through North Little Rock."

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Wednesday afternoon, Tranena Thomas said she wasn't sure why a warrant would have been issued.

The video shows Elijah Thomas in handcuffs as he is told by the officer that he can either walk to the police car, or he can be dragged "all the way." The officer tells Elijah Thomas those are his "two options."

The officer is then shown on the video dragging Thomas across the street to the car. Several bystanders are heard objecting; one person is heard yelling, "You're dragging him like a dog."

Tranena Thomas said Wednesday that she was upset by how her uncle was treated.

"We weren't disputing him being locked up, you know, being arrested. Only thing that we were concerned about was him being drug across the road," she said.

She said her uncle has a mental illness.

"A lot of people in England know him, and they know how to deal with him -- they help him," Tranena Thomas said. "The only thing Elijah does around England is walk around, he talks to himself, he picks up trash around the town, he goes to stores and picks up trash, and that's the only thing he does in our town of England."

She said that when she last spoke to her uncle, he told her, "I'm OK." She added, however, that her uncle's sister said he has bruises on his legs.

Tranena said officers need to receive more training on how to deal with mental illness.

"That goes for children, young adults, older people, because sometimes they don't understand," she said. "They can hear you talk, but they're not comprehending what you're trying to say."

Only one officer was present during the arrest, though a second officer is seen near the end of the video arriving to assist with putting Elijah Thomas into the police car.

According to the England Police Department's news release, the incident is under investigation, and the officer is on administrative leave.

"The Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has been requested to assign an outside agency to investigate any criminal violations that occurred by all participants in the incident," the release said.

The England Police Department said it is investigating whether its policies and procedures were followed.

The name of the arresting officer, the nature of the warrant for Elijah Thomas, and the charge or charges filed after the arrest, if any, were unavailable as of Wednesday afternoon. Further information from the police department was not available.


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