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Vilonia officer under investigation for 'vindictive' traffic stops, possible assault

Posted: July 23, 2014 - 3:48pm

A Vilonia Police Department officer has been suspended with pay while being investigated for allegedly unlawful and vindictive traffic stops and searches. 

The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office took two complaints alleging wrongdoing by VPD officer Steven Carpenter. In one complaint, a father claims that Carpenter sent a text message to his teenage son’s phone that read, “I know you have a suspended license and I will pull you over every time I see you.” 

The father claims that the text messages and harassing behavior started after his son rudely insulted Carpenter’s daughter, according to the report.

On July 14, a report taken by FCSO states, the father received a phone call from his son saying that he was being pulled over near the Subway restaurant in Vilonia. When the father got to the scene of the stop, the report states, Carpenter said that he’d pulled him over because of the suspended license and arrested the teen after the teen declined to consent to a vehicle search.

The father also wouldn’t consent to a search, the report states, and “Officer Carpenter then shoved [the father] up against the truck and forced his arm behind his back. 

“[The father] then felt something stick him in the back and Officer Carpenter told him to drop the keys or he would be tased.” The father dropped the keys, and Carpenter unlocked the truck, reached in, and “immediately yelled out ‘I got you now!’ and pulled out a tiny [vial] filled with a leafy green substance,” the report states.

The teen kicked out the back window of Carpenter’s patrol car while his father was struggling with the officer, according to the report.

The alleged use of the taser and arm lock to coerce the father to unlock the truck, if true, could be grounds for a third-degree assault charge. Generally, law enforcement officers can’t be charged with harassment if the claimed harassing conduct is “within the reasonable scope of his [or her] duty while conducting surveillance on an official work assignment.” Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-71-208(c).

The father also claims that on July 15th Carpenter saw him talking to two young Vilonia women, friends of his son, who had made a complaint of their own about Carpenter to FCSO, according to the report. Carpenter handcuffed one of the women talking to the father, and said “I know what your (sic) doing, why are you talking to them?,” according to the report, and told the father that he wasn’t allowed to be on Ridgeway Drive and had to leave the “private neighborhood.” The neighborhood is a subdivision and the streets are public.

According to a report taken by FCSO on July 14, the woman claims Carpenter stopped a car she was riding in that morning for a burned-out taillight and asked her and the driver questions about the driver’s boyfriend before ordering her out of the car and fondling her crotch during a pat-down search for weapons. Carpenter told the driver that if she left the scene of the traffic stop he would arrest her for fleeing, and came and went several times in a stop that lasted more than an hour.

Generally speaking, a traffic stop may be unlawful if it lasts longer than 15 minutes without a good reason for the delay (this is not a firm rule, but rather a rule of thumb and can vary depending on what’s being investigated during the stop and other circumstances). The allegation of fondling may, if true, be grounds for a second-degree sexual assault charge.

The driver of this car also reported that on July 15 she waved at Carpenter, who arrested her and cited her for disorderly conduct, claiming that she’d made an obscene hand gesture.

The reports have been turned over to the 20th Judicial District prosecutor’s office and the Arkansas State Police have been contacted to investigate the claims.

Carpenter was hired in December, 2012. Vilonia Mayor James Firestone said on Tuesday that the allegations against the officer are being taken seriously, and that “anytime we get something like that we’re going to look into it.” Vilonia Chief of Police Brad McNew said on Wednesday that his department would “do what needs to be done” when the investigation is finished.

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Igor Rabinowitz
Igor Rabinowitz 07/23/14 - 08:08 pm

Is anyone else drawing some parallels here?

mikeng1994 07/23/14 - 08:21 pm
I do

and I can't draw for crap.

Zweck 07/23/14 - 08:35 pm
Any of this

Any of this is crazy - this goes beyond what was described last week for sure

tmccoy72032 07/23/14 - 11:57 pm
To Mr. Firestone and Mr.

To Mr. Firestone and Mr. McNew:

How long are you going to let your officers act this way? These types of police actions are an embarrassment to a fine city.

What kind of background check did you perform on this man?

Why are you still paying him.

To the LCD:

What does Carpenter's work history look like? This should have been part of this story.

If these allegations are true, would it not seem likely that he has a history of complaints against him? Has he ever been fired from a police job before?

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CHECK TO SEE IF VILONIA GETS A DISPROPORTIONATE (illegal) AMOUNT OF REVENUE FROM THESE SHADY POLICE TACTICS? How about a comparison with all the smaller cities in Faulkner county? That might just be "news".

I am no editor, but are you guys paying attention here?

Where is the investigative journalism?

Seems to me that the LCD has its head in the sand. It is common knowledge around Faulkner county that the VPD is out of control.

tracking wolf
tracking wolf 07/24/14 - 09:39 am
Where are all those VPD

Where are all those VPD sympathizers now? Isn't anyone going to start up a new account and tell us how we are all out to get the police. And REALLY Mr. Firestone and McNew you are the ones that encourage the traffic stops and illeagal searches, the only reason you will do something about it now is it has gone beyond Vilonia, can't sweep this one under the rug or you would.

Oilman 07/24/14 - 09:20 am
Is this anything NEW in Vilonia---NO

Don't worry they will still cover it up and forget about Mr. Firestone doing anything or the city council! This just happens over and over! The Hawaii Five O Vilonia Police have more brand new Tahoes than any small town in the country, and we have more officers than the lights flashing from those Mcnew specials! We just hired one officer a few months back that was fired from Florida for WHAT? He was hired at the chiefs request and the City Council and Mayor rubber stamped approval was no problem! This will keep going on just look at the full time Vilonia Dective Hartwick and his detailed past complaints, lawsuits but he has worked with Mcnew where before Vilonia with brutality lawsuits etc. for years. His Tahoe is driven to and from his house on the other side of Greenbrier by Woolly Hollow park every shift doing 70 Mph + through Pickles Gap! How much does that cost the taxpayer at 40 miles a day? Some kind of fringe benefit or just Mcnew's personal play play house! Don't complain or you will be harassed or even tasered...

moonstar5057 07/24/14 - 10:32 am

I agree Vilonia is not a fine city. Everybody knows you have to tip toe through town. There is so much corruption. I think the "good ole boy" club needs to be cleaned out. They are milking the citizens

alipage72 07/24/14 - 12:22 pm
May I have a job?

I'll get to the bottom of it :)

icpurple 07/24/14 - 01:28 pm
Vilonia PD

VPD are bullies, I am not happy with thier conduct nor do I appreciate being pulled over and questioned about my window tint or my temporary tags on a new vehicle or my teenage son being stopped for stupid reasons. I presently live in Vilonia and can not wait until my children are out of school so we can move away from there.
We were also treated unfairly by the school when my son was sent to court due to a small situation at school that wasnt even his fault. The juvenile court system in conway SHAKES THEIR HEAD at vilonia for sending kids straight to them for minor issues that could have and should have been handled at school.
Sometimes I think this whole town is corrupt!!!!

InsGuru 07/24/14 - 03:18 pm
Find me

a city, state, or federal govermant (department) in US that doesn't have some corruption, and I'll find you a unicorn.

THe problem with (half the) cops is they do not have the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to do the job of someone with their sort of power / authority.

Critical think skills learned in higher education.

Heaven forbid one of them having a (personal) bad day stop you.. I have personal bad days all the time, I don't let it spill over into my job or work, I'd probably be terminated....

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