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Two investigations into Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey unfinished as he prepares to step down

Humphrey’s Dec. 31 actions still subject of two inquiries by Joseph Flaherty | May 4, 2022 at 5:13 a.m.
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey is shown in this file photo.

Two investigations examining Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey's actions during a Dec. 31 shooting incident remain ongoing, officials confirmed Tuesday, one day after the mayor announced that the police chief will step down later this month.

Humphrey, 58, will retire May 20 after roughly three years in the chief's office, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said Monday.

On New Year's Eve, Humphrey was on patrol like other members of the department's command staff when the chief encountered a disturbance at an Asher Avenue gas station.

An armed individual at the scene opened fire following an altercation, and Humphrey fired his weapon at the suspect, according to the authorities' account of the incident.

The suspect, Taz Hayes, was apparently uninjured. One individual was wounded in the shooting. Hayes has pleaded innocent to a first-degree battery charge, court records show.

Prosecutors of the Sixth Judicial District, which encompasses Pulaski and Perry counties, as well as Police Department officials have yet to conclude inquiries related to Humphrey, officials indicated Tuesday.

At Little Rock's request, Arkansas State Police officials investigated the shooting that left the victim wounded in addition to Humphrey's use of force.

State Police officials submitted the investigative case file regarding Humphrey's use of force to prosecutors in February. Prosecutors are expected to make a determination about whether Humphrey's response complied with the law.

When reached via email Tuesday and asked about the investigation's status, Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley wrote, "The matter remains under review."

Asked if it would matter in terms of criminal exposure for Humphrey should his last day arrive before prosecutors make a charging decision, Jegley suggested it would not.

"Our process does not allow outside factors to influence anything in our review protocol," he wrote.

Officials within the Little Rock Police Department are conducting a separate investigation into Humphrey's actions.

If the internal investigation follows the course of similar inquiries, officials can be expected to assess whether Humphrey violated departmental policies in connection to the New Year's Eve incident.

Police Department spokesman Mark Edwards said via email Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing.

It's unclear how any possible disciplinary action for Humphrey that results from the internal investigation would play out if the probe has not concluded by May 20.

Edwards and another police official did not respond Tuesday when asked when the department expects the investigation to be completed.

They also did not respond to the question of whether it would affect any disciplinary action tied to the investigation should the chief step down before it has concluded.

In response to questions about the investigations from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Scott's spokesman Aaron Sadler said in a text message Tuesday that the mayor had no comment.

Michael Laux, an attorney who represented Humphrey in the police chief's now-dismissed 2020 counter-suit against a series of his opponents, did not respond to emailed questions Tuesday regarding the twin investigations pertaining to the chief.

Scott did not mention the two investigations in Monday's statement announcing Humphrey's plan to step down.

Likewise, Humphrey did not refer to the inquiries in an April 26 memo addressed to Scott that notified the mayor of his intention to retire.

"Violent crime has increased in cities across the country in the past months, and I appreciate Chief Humphrey as an effective, innovative leader who has worked hard to develop community relationships and reduce crime in Little Rock," Scott said in a statement Monday.

"Our next police chief will be expected to build on those efforts, while recognizing the immediate need to make our streets safer for residents," he added. "At the same time, the new chief will be an integral part of our holistic and collaborative approach to reducing violence."

Assistant Chief Crystal Young-Haskins will serve as interim chief beginning May 21 while the city searches for Humphrey's replacement.


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