At a special city council meeting Tuesday night, Conway aldermen voted to approve a settlement offer in the case Gault, et al v. Conway Police Department for $20,000.
The police department had been sued for false arrest. The Arkansas Municipal League represented the city in the settlement negotiations.
According to court documents, on the evening of March 22, 2012, Kenneth Lowery called the Conway Police Department to report a battery by his girlfriend. Lowery made the call from the home of his mother Keisha Gault and stepfather Dwayne Gault.
Conway Police Officers Steve Colliford and Matthew Kimery went to the residence to question Lowery, but Lowery had left.
“Without Mr. Gault’s permission and without a warrant, Office(r) Culliford unlawfully searched the Plaintiff’s residence,” court documents report. “During the conducting of said search, Mr. Gault was handcuffed.”
Lowery then called and spoke with one of the officers, who uncuffed Gault at that time.
When Keisha Gault returned from picking up her grandchild, she approached officers and questioned their right to search the home. According to court documents, the officers then accused her of interfering with the investigation. Officer Kimery pronounced her under arrest and she was accused of attempting to flee as she gave her purse to her husband. She was handcuffed, detained and placed in the police truck.
“In an attempt to force Mrs. Gault to contact her son (Lowery) to come to the Plaintiffs’ residence, Mrs. Gault was detained in the back of the police truck; all the while being badgered by Officer Kimery to contact her son and entice him to return to Plaintiff’s residence,” court documents report.
A third officer arrived and released Keisha Gault. Dwayne and Keisha Gault were not charged with a crime.
“This was not, legally speaking, the appropriate course of action,” said John Wilkerson, staff attorney with the Arkansas Municipal League.
Wilkerson said the police department performed an internal investigation and found there were policy violations and the officers were disciplined.
The municipal league will pay 90 percent of the settlement, leaving the city responsible for $2,000, which will come from the general fund.