ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — All charges against a Fort Smith man for forgery and theft have been dropped, according to a letter from the Benton County Circuit Court dated June 17, 2020.
Now, Luke Bradley Francis sued multiple law enforcement officers, and the cities where the agencies are located, for Racketeering and Corruption, also known as the RICO Act, and the Anti-SLAPP Act. He filed a civil lawsuit on May 5, 2020, with the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith.
Anti-SLAPP Act: Acts in furtherance of the right of free speech, or petition in connection with an issue of public concern, including statements or petitions before an official proceeding, or in connection with issue under consideration by government body, are protected.ARK. CODE §§ 16-63-501 – 16-63-508 (2005).
Francis, (aka Luke Ashlocke), named 10 officers from three law enforcement agencies — Bentonville, Fort Smith and Van Buren Police Departments — in his case.
Francis also filed an IFP (in forma pauperis) so his filing fees of $400 are waived.
FRANCIS CLAIMS ARREST WAS RETALIATORY
Francis was arrested on the morning of December 25, 2019, in Sebastian County by a Fort Smith police officer for dumpster diving and trespassing. Charges he said, “were made up.” He was released from jail the same day and has a trial date set for August 6, 2020.
On January 1st, Francis sees a police officer pull over a group of guys in Sebastian County. Feeling they were being harassed, he video records a part of the incident.
By April 13, another video shot by Francis goes viral.
On April 15, his home was raided and he was arrested in Sebastian County. The Fort Smith man was taken to jail in Benton County for three felonies: forgeries and theft by receiving. Officers did have a search warrant, but it was not signed by a judge. While jailed, his neighbors told him officers were at his home on the 16th and 17th. His truck was seized, but the assessor’s office had the incorrect vehicle identification number. This gave police cause for taking the truck because the vehicle ID did not match the vehicle description.
He was released on April 17. “This arrest was retaliatory because of the video,” said Francis in his opinion. When he was released from the Benton County jail he was told to walk home. “I paid a guy $100 to drive me home. I arrived home and found the front door open. My possessions were damaged, some were missing, and I faced eviction,” he said.
On May 5, Francis filed his civil lawsuit against the officers, and the case is slated for a jury trial in May 2021. “I filed because I’m innocent.”
On June 17, the Circuit Court of Benton County dismissed the felonies.
“After the December arrest, I was scared to death [regarding law enforcement behavior] and started videotaping others who I saw were being harassed. On New Year’s day, I videotaped police in Sebastian County pulling over a car with young Black men,” said Francis.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Francis acquired a Fort Smith police bodycam video where he was pulled over and being questioned by police for driving in an empty parking lot after hours. On the video, Fort Smith police said they believe he’s a “sovereign citizen.” On the video, the FSP officer said he was suspicious because Francis was driving behind buildings, and again called Francis a “sovereign citizen” another officer described him as “sketchy.”
The tone Francis used in the video is terse, but he said there was a reason. “This was the 32nd time police had pulled me over and I was tired of it.”
Francis said he has lived coast-to-coast and has never felt as harassed by police as he has in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
KNWA/FOX24 reached out to the attorney representing the defendants but has yet to received a response.