Fire Chief Shot by Police Officer in Court
Reported by: Lacey Crisp
Last Update: 8/31 9:55 am
JERICHO, AR - A small Arkansas town is without their fire chief. He's recovering at The MED after he was shot in court by a police officer. The courtroom chaos happened Thursday, August 27, 2009 in Jericho, a tiny town of 200 just north of Marion.
Crime scene tape still surrounds Jericho City Hall where Chief Don Payne was shot in court by officers while trying to argue a traffic ticket.
“They gave his son a ticket for no driver's license. He had a license, he just didn't have it on him at the time,” said Samuel Harris.
Many in the small town argue police officers are handing out tickets just to pad the city's coffers. Harris was at the courtroom before Payne was shot. He says Payne was trying to stick up for his son, and get the ticket dismissed.
“He came back to ask why they gave him a ticket. He got into an argument,” Harris said.
Harris says the officer who handed out the ticket was in court. He says the officer and Payne started fighting.
“When they told him to take his hands out of his pockets, he said, ma'am I don't have anything in my pockets. He put his hands up. After he took he hands out, they got into a scuffle,” Harris said.
“One of the officers got shot in the hand, and he got shot in the back of the hip,” said Larry Harris.
Harris says he hopes the officers are punished.
“I don't understand why they had to shoot him if there were 7 police officers in the courtroom and he's only one man, and he's not armed, I don't understand why they shot him,” Samuel Harris said.
Payne is recovering at The MED. His wife says he had to have surgery on his hip. She's hoping he can get out by next week.
We tried to contact the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department for more information on the investigation. Our calls were not returned.