Upset police shoot complaining fire chief in Arkansas courtroom

Steven Hodson

I realize that it's pretty much an over worked running joke about towns whose police chief rules with and iron fist and whose coffers overflow with money raised by excessive ticketing. For the most part we associate stories like these with overblown television shows needing some sort of comic relief. That is until you come across Jericho Arkansas.

Up until recently much of the policing of this 174 person town was handled by the state police but then the town found out it could get some some grant money to form its own police force. So in the 1990's Jericho got its own police force and the poor town hasn't been the same since.

The town became the epitome of a traffic ticket town where Thomas Martin, chief investigator for the Crittendon State Police has said you can't get the Jericho police on the phone because they are too busy writing tickets. It is so out of hand that 75-year-old retiree Albert Beebe got a ticket for going 58 miles per hour in his driveway.

Now before you start thinking that being such a small town it is understandable that their officer is busy all of the time it might be wise to point out that besides the police chief the Jericho police force consists of seven officers – in a town of 174 people.

Well it appears that the simmering tensions between the town residents and their police force came to a head recently as their Fire Chief Don Payne found himself in court twice in the same day to contest traffic tickets. Words got a little heated and suddenly the fire chief found himself being shot by one of the seven police officers present in the courtroom.

It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.

It's unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

Doctors in Memphis, Tenn., removed a .40-caliber bullet from Payne's hip bone, Martin said. Another officer suffered a grazing wound to his finger from the bullet.

Martin declined to name the officer who shot Payne. It's unclear if the officer has been disciplined.

Source: Yahoo News/AP - Fire chief shot by cop in Ark. court over tickets

It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.

It's unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

Doctors in Memphis, Tenn., removed a .40-caliber bullet from Payne's hip bone, Martin said. Another officer suffered a grazing wound to his finger from the bullet.

Martin declined to name the officer who shot Payne. It's unclear if the officer has been disciplined.

Source: Yahoo News/AP - Fire chief shot by cop in Ark. court over tickets

Since the shooting the police department in Jericho has been disbanded "until things calm down". As well the judge, Tonya Alexander, has voided all the tickets written by the department both inside the town and others that were written outside of their jurisdiction. Alexander has also resign as judge after the whole incident.

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