Fort Smith police investigating excessive use of force report after incident at Central Mall

River Valley News

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Fort Smith Police Department is currently conducting an internal investigation after allegations of excessive use of force during an incident at the Central Mall.

According to the Fort Smith Police Department, on Monday, June 21, at approximately 6 p.m., Fort Smith Police were called to Central Mall about a problem juvenile. Central Mall Security said that one male subject in a group of juveniles was causing trouble and asked to leave.

In front of multiple mall employee witnesses, the juvenile allegedly said, “I am going to get my gun and come back to kill all you f*****s.”

Officer Garrett Ford was the responding officer. With that information, he was now dealing with a terroristic threats call. He made contact with the juvenile in question, identified by mall security, in front of Dillard’s.

Upon being approached by Officer Ford the juvenile fled on foot. Officer Ford gave chase and was able to catch up to the juvenile in the parking lot, but the juvenile resisted arrest, forcing Officer Ford and Det. Andre Arnoldi (working off-duty as on-site security for Dillard’s) to take the juvenile to the ground. This is a common technique for subduing resisting or aggressive people, according to the department.

The press release states that the two officers attempted to de-escalate the situation and used the minimum amount of force necessary to complete the arrest. While subduing the first juvenile, a second male juvenile continually interfered with the arrest. In all, the first juvenile was on the ground for about a minute and a half.

After multiple warnings, Officer Ford arrested the second juvenile for Obstructing Governmental Operations and Criminal Trespassing as he had previously been placed on Central Mall’s banned list.  

Officer Ford’s body camera was knocked to the ground during the arrest of the second juvenile. A 15-second clip of the arrest with limited sound was later posted to social media lacking considerable context, according to the department.

A 14-minute clip of the video showing the events before, during, and immediately after the arrest is now available for further context with heavy visual and some audio redaction to protect the information and identities of the juveniles involved.

Immediately following the arrest, controversy began over the officer briefly kneeling on the juvenile and if the tactics used were too violent.

“I mean, it was shocking to me because the officers they actually knew that they was going to deal with kids and they wasn’t deal with adults, so it was a way they should’ve handled that situation dealing with kids,” said , Devin Sims, uncle of the juvenile seen in the body cam video. “Whether it’s a 13 year old child or a 40 year old man, no one should have to deal with excessive force and putting force in the back of their neck their back or anything like that.”

*WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS USE OF PROFANITY*

The video will be uploaded later after some editing due to vulgar language.

No injuries were reported during the incident.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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