Prosecuting Attorney Mike Walden of Jonesboro confirms that one of his deputies issued an aggravated assault warrant Tuesday against Turrell Police chief Greg Martin. Turrell Council member Floyd Holmes and his wife Reena gave statements saying Martin had pulled a gun on them when he went to their home to investigate a disturbance earlier at City Hall. No shots were fired and "nothing further took place," Walden said. He added that the investigation of the related incidents is continuing. Walden said the chief would have an initial court appearance in 30 to 60 days.
The dispute reportedly began last Friday, when Holmes and another council member went to city hall to get city paychecks. The clerk reportedly said the city didn't have sufficient money to issue the checks. Reporters accompanied the council members, which apparently rankled some other city officials, including the mayor. Accounts gathered by police indicate that the chief then went to Holmes' house, where two interior decorators were visiting. By the Holmeses' account, the chief threatened them in front of their guests. I haven't been able to pin down a report that some of the action was caught on a cell phone video camera.
I tried to call Chief Martin, but so far have been unable to get anyone to answer the Turrell police department telephone. The website lists five officers on the force for the town of fewer than 900 residents. I'm also awaiting a call for more details from the Crittenden sheriff's office.
A Memphis TV station reported recently that the State Police had cranked up investigations of three tiny East Arkansas towns -- Turrell, Jericho and Jennette -- for a variety of allegations of governmental misdeeds. Travel expenses and accounting are among the issues being studied. These little towns, set up to receive water and sewer grants, can become kingdoms for people with families big enough to elect the kings. Speed traps and heavy-handed actions sometimes follow. In Jericho, a police officer shot the fire chief in the fall after he confronted a judge over a traffic ticket. The state has been trying to audit Turrell, but has had difficulties because the mayor reportedly shut down city hall in a dispute with council members. In 2008, the mayor tried to fire the council.
Add another official controversy to the fire.