A former Faulkner County sheriff’s deputy convicted of third-degree battery has asked permission to have a gun.
Eugene Watlington, 44, of Vilonia was convicted of third-degree battery for a May 2015 incident where he kicked and stomped on a confidential informant who was held at gunpoint and forced to flee police.
Defense Attorney Lee D. Short filed a motion in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Thursday requesting the no contact order against Watlington be altered.
Watlington was ordered not to have contact with Harvey Martin III after he was charged with third-degree battery last year.
Martin was the driver of the vehicle that fled police at speeds of up to 138 miles per hour on Interstate 40. Prosecutors later dropped charges against Martin after learning he was working with the Conway Police Department Drug Task Force in locating parole absconder, Christopher Cummings.
Cummings, who held Martin at gunpoint and threatened to kill his family if he did not flee police, was later sentenced to 175 years in prison.
As part of the conditions of the no contact order, Watlington is prohibited from owning a firearm.
“The current allegations do not involve the illegal use of a firearm,” the defense argues. “Even if convicted, Defendant would not be prevented from owning a firearm by law.”
Short also said Watlington should be allowed to own a firearm to protect his family.
“Defendant is a former law enforcement officer and desires the ability to protect himself and his family members,” the motion reads. “The existence of a public order notifying individuals Defendant has arrested of his inability to have a firearm is concerning to himself and family.”
Special Judge Mark Derrick of White County sentenced Watlington to 90 days in jail and issued a $1,090 fine.
Watlington was sentenced April 7, and in accordance with Derrick’s ruling, must complete his jail time by July 15. However, by appealing the misdemeanor conviction, the process is put on hold.
Misdemeanor appeals give the defense the opportunity to a De Novo (second) trial in circuit court.
Short previously asked Derrick to consider altering the no contact order against Watlington while the matter was in district court. However, Derrick said he was more comfortable leaving that decision up to the next judge as the case went through the appeals process.
Watlington was charged with third-degree battery after video footage that was captured on a Mayflower officer’s body camera showed seven Faulkner County deputies, including Watlington, surrounding Martin after he was pulled from his white Ford Mustang.
In the video, Martin is heard yelling: “Help me! Help me! I’m not resisting.”
Martin testified that he could not put his hands behind his back as the deputies commanded because the weight of them against him was trapping his arms between himself and the asphalt.
Derrick said he found concerning that Watlington kicked Martin and then checked to see if anyone was watching, which led to his conviction.
Watlington is set to appear in Faulkner County Circuit Court regarding his appeal at 1 p.m. May 22.