A Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office investigator was cleared of any wrongdoing Monday evening following a week-long use-of-force investigation that launched after a Greenbrier family’s dog was shot and killed.
Video footage of the incident began circulating social media on Nov. 9.
Chris Coiner, the dog’s owner, told the Log Cabin Democrat the incident in question happened around 4 p.m. Nov. 9 as his daughter was headed home from school. The Greenbrier resident said the 3-year-old Terrier mix did not act aggressively toward the investigator and that the investigator “knew he was at the wrong address.”
Sheriff Tim Ryals released a statement about the matter Monday evening after all involved parties were interviewed and an investigator who was not directly tied to the Criminal Investigation Division where investigator James Darrell Freeman works had reviewed all evidence and statements given associated with the case.
“At my request, Faulkner County investigators have been working diligently over the last week to determine whether or not Investigator Freeman violated any state law and/or our agency’s policies and procedures. During that time, investigators spoke with multiple witnesses who stated the dog had a history of acting aggressively towards humans,” the sheriff said Monday. “After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that no policies or laws were violated.”
“We, in law enforcement, answer calls every day that require split-second, life and death decisions. We strive to be right 100 percent of the time. Our department is saddened by this unfortunate incident and sincerely apologize for any distress it may have caused.”
Officials have said Freeman went to a residence in the 70 block of Autumn Hills Road on the day in question while following up on a sex offender compliance check.
“Investigator Freeman was doing a compliance check on a registered sex offender, and went to the property listed as the subject’s address,” Ryals said in a press release issued Monday evening. “There are several mobile homes at the 76 Autumn Hills Road address that are not distinguishable by letter or number. Upon arrival, a juvenile informed Investigator Freeman that the sex offender lived next door to her. Investigator Freeman approached the mobile home, and a dog came from under the building and started barking and growling.”
According to the sheriff’s statement, the investigator “told the dog to get back” and it went under the mobile home when its owner called for it.
At this point, the investigator reportedly began walking toward the back side of the trailer when the dog “approached him more aggressively.”
“Investigator Freeman was placed in an unfortunate situation with his back against the mobile home and no way to escape the dog,” Ryals said. “He again told the dog to get back and the dog lunged at him. As a result, Investigator Freeman deployed his weapon on the animal.”
Coiner has said he did not believe Freeman had the right to be on his property on the day in question and that his family his heartbroken over Clide’s death.
Clide, the family dog, joined the Coiner family when he was 5 months old. The dog’s owner said his 3-year-old son and Clide were very close and that his son wakes up “calling for Clide.”
Online court records show that the Guy police chief alerted sheriff’s officials that 74-year-old Samuel Dean Hess had been staying at a residence on Church Street in Guy. Hess, who was convicted of child molestation in February 1997, is the registered sex offender the FCSO investigator had attempted to locate on Nov. 9 during the compliance check on Autumn Hills Road.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed against the 74-year-old sex offender, Hess was notified in early-October he could not stay at the residence in question on Church Street.
Hess attempted to register his residency at the Church Street home upon his release from the Arkansas Department of Corrections but was not allowed to do so because he is a Level 3 sex offender and the residence in question was located near the city park and within 2,000 feet of a church that provides childcare services, the affidavit states.
Online records also indicate Hess attempted to register at a residence on Cedar Street in Greenbrier but could not stay there because the home was too close to Matthews Park.
After telling authorities on Oct. 26 he would register under a homeless status, Hess reportedly updated his information two days later, saying he planned to move to a residence at 72A Autumn Hills Road, according to court documents.
Guy Police Chief Chris Humphrey called the sheriff’s office on Nov. 9 to confirm whether Hess was a registered sex offender, the report states.
After verifying the 74-year-old was a registered sex offender, the report states the Guy police chief alerted sheriff’s officials that he believed Hess was actually living at the residence on Church Street in Guy.
“Chief Humphrey told me that he witnessed Mr. Hess [at the Church Street residence] on Wednesday, [Nov. 4], Thursday, [Nov. 5], Friday, [Nov. 6], and again on Monday, [Nov. 9],” FCSO Registered Sex Offender Coordinator Vanda Phillips wrote in her report. “[Humphrey] advised that when he drove by on Monday, [Nov. 9], Mr. Hess seen him and quickly went into the residence from outside. Chief Humphrey advised that he has witnessed [Hess] there at different times of the day each time.”
The report states that after Phillips spoke with the Guy police chief, she requested Freeman to conduct a compliance check at 72A Autumn Hills Road.
“Inv. Freeman advised me that Mr. Hess was not present at the address and no contact was made with anyone at this address. He then spoke to neighbors (unknown names) who stated that they witnessed [Hess] there a couple of times but [had] not seen him since and that was ‘about a week or so’ ago,” Phillips wrote in her report.
Online records show that the Guy Police Department arrested Hess on Nov. 10 and that he was booked into the Faulkner County Detention Center at 3:28 p.m. Nov. 10. The 74-year-old remains behind bars in lieu of a $5,000 bond and is awaiting a Nov. 23 plea and arraignment hearing.