The saga of Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson’s run in with Little Rock police has come to a happy conclusion.
Advance Arkansas Institute President Dan Greenberg initially wrote that Thompson did not appear to be guilty of what he was arrested for, but that he (Thompson) had simply been argumentative and behaved obnoxiously. A few days later, after some great citizen investigative journalism by local businesswoman Partne Daugherty, audio tapes of the arrest were obtained and Greenberg retracted his remaining criticism, stating rather that Thompson had largely acted appropriately. Now, as the saga comes to an end (for now), it appears that Greenberg was right.
Yesterday we learned that the Thompson will not be prosecuted (overshadowing the real news of the day that Rep. Hank Wilkins’ wife may have committed two felonies after twice violating her husband’s anti-nepotism law). According to KATV, Thompson’s charge for attempting to influence a public servant will be dropped, and two charges for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest will be dismissed in the coming months. Thompson had been scheduled to appear before a judge next week.
We can never know for sure, but I have to believe that the great work of Ms. Daugherty and Mr. Greenberg played at least some contributing role in the dropping of these charges against Dr. Thompson. Once the audio files of Thompson’s arrest were posted here at The Arkansas Project, they were then picked up by numerous media outlets, including our friend Max Brantley, KARK, and THV. This engendered much speculation that the entire episode had been overdramatized and public opinion began to shift in Thompson’s favor. Even Governor Mike Beebe spoke up to say that Thompson’s job was safe, going so far as to say that he wasn’t sure Thompson should’ve been arrested at all.
And after reading his statement today, I believe Dr. Thompson himself would agree that the work done by Daugherty & Greenberg was invaluable. He thanked them for their work:
I want to point out that the dash cam video and audio recording of the incident proves that I clearly did not make the quoted statements attributed to me in the police report that were the basis for the charge of attempting to influence an officer. Thank you to the individuals who secured and released this evidence.
This story may have ended differently were it not for a vigilant citizen exercising her rights and finding truth. This was truly an example of the Freedom of Information Act serving its masterfully designed purpose–a safeguard of liberty and real justice.