by Max Brantley
Denney made the traffic stop in March that ultimately led to the dismissal of Michael Dyer from the Arkansas State football team. Denney gave Dyer a speeding ticket. But the Searcy Daily Citizen began inquiring about the incident last week and Friday received video that showed Denney had found a gun and a substance believed to be marijuana during the course of the stop. ASU Coach Gus Malzahn has explained he dismissed Dyer from the team when he learned about references in the video to marijuana. Dyer had told him after the March stop about the gun, but contended he possessed it legally. He denied a state trooper's report to Malzahn that marijuana was involved.
To date, the State Police has declined to discuss what happened on the marijuana and gun issues. It cited an ongoing personnel review of Denney. Until today, it hadn't revealed last Friday's termination decision.
The file of the investigation remains closed while he appeals his firing to the State Police Commission.
But the State Police have released his termination letter. It reveals an investigation had been underway at least since May 11 for violation of policy, including use of his patrol unit's camera, in the March stop. He turned off the camera during the course of his stop of Dyer. It also said he'd violated policy by confiscating Dyer's weapon "without legal justification" and by "disposing of potential drug evidence discovered during a traffic stop." The video, before it was turned off, reflects Denney lecturing Dyer about the gun and marijuana and talking about whether he should tell the football coach. Dyer and another driver were stopped for speeding. Both were ticketed, but faced no other charges.