Former Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) deputy Eugene Watlington turned himself in to authorities at 12:20 p.m. Friday. He was released about 20 minutes later.
Watlington, 43, of Vilonia was released from the Faulkner County Detention Center (FCDC) at 12:49 p.m. on a $1,090 bond.
Prosecuting Attorney Tom Tatum II of the Yell County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, who was appointed as special prosecutor after the city recused itself from the matter, charged Watlington with third-degree battery Monday.
Watlington was fired from FCSO on July 10. His firing stemmed from a May 4 incident where video footage captured by a Mayflower police officer’s body camera of a high-speed police chase and ensuing arrest shows him kicking Harvey Martin III.
"Toward the end of the struggle it looks like you kicked the arrestee [Martin] numerous times that I consider to be clearly not needed as a part of the effort to subdue the arrestee," then-Sheriff Andy Shock wrote in a July 10 termination letter. "Because I think you violated the county’s use of force policy, I have to impose discipline."
Martin had been an informant working with the Conway Police Department’s (CPD) drug taskforce in leading officers to the arrest of Christopher James "Lil Man" Cummings.
The footage of the May 4 incident led to an internal and federal investigation of the FCSO. The internal investigation concluded with Watlington’s termination. The FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launched a color of law investigation regarding the officers’ — Watlington, Martin Clifford, Darrell Freeman, Brint Romley and Chris Meyers — arrests of Christopher James "Lil Man" Cummings, 29 and Martin. It is unclear if this investigation has concluded.
City Attorney Chuck Clawson said the city recused itself from the case against because CPD officers assisted in the chase and "two officers were involved in Cummings’ arrest."
A court date has not yet been set.
(Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)