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Judge Hits Pope Co. Sheriff With Fine Over Missing Evidence

POPE COUNTY, AR -- The video is dark. It's hard to make out what exactly transpires, and attorneys for a Dover family say that's part of the problem.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The video is dark. It's hard to make out what exactly transpires, and attorneys for a Dover family say that's part of the problem.

"This case involves a police encounter with a mother and her juvenile son while they were out walking their dog," said Holly Dickson, an ACLU attorney.

A Dover marshal was the first to stop Eva and Ron Robinson the night of September 13, 2011, and things escalated when a Pope County Deputy and Arkansas State Police Officer showed up.

According to Dickson, "demands for search, questions about drugs, led to police essentially beating up two innocent citizens."

But much of the evidence proving what happened that night isn't available. The camera from the Pope County deputy's cruiser -- for some reason -- never produced audio. And nothing was recovered from the state police officer's camera.

"It's not just our belief that there should be more evidence," Dickson said. "It was policy of the Arkansas State Police and Pope County Sheriff's Office."

Data stored on a taser gun used on then 16-year-old Ron that would have showed when and for how long it was deployed was also lost.

"We've never received any explanation that's held water as to what happened to that data," Dickson said.

That prompted an order from a federal judge forcing Pope County Sheriff Aaron Duvall to pay $4,500 in attorneys fees to the Robinsons' legal team. It's money paid by taxpayers in the form of a check cut by the county treasurer.

"If we had more video and we had audio and we had the evidence from the taser, that could answer a lot of the questions," Dickson said.

Justice of the Peace David Ivy issued the below statement Thursday regarding the $4,500 check.

"As a justice on the quorum court, when I vote to allocate funds for necessary legal functions of county departmental heads, I certainly do not intend for those funds to be used for the payment of fines that resulted from an elected official's failure to comply with a lawful court order. I don't believe this is the intent of any of the quorum court representatives. I believe this is an irresponsible use of public funds."

We have been trying to get in touch with Sheriff Duvall since Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, an assistant in his office referred our questions to Hot Springs attorney Burt Newell. A call to his office was not returned.
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