Sebastian County Prosecutor Dan Shue said Friday (Jan. 22) he will not pursue felony perjury charges against a Fort Smith Police Department captain unless a law enforcement agency investigation determines such action is necessary.
On Jan. 20, Shue was asked by Little Rock attorney Matt Campbell to consider a perjury charge against Fort Smith Police Department Captain Jarrard Copeland. According to Campbell, Copeland’s alleged perjury happened Aug. 29, 2014, as part of a hearing related to a whistleblower lawsuit by plaintiffs Don Paul Bales, Rick Entmeier and Wendall Sampson. The three police officers have maintained they were fired or disciplined as a result of trying to point out illegal behavior within the FSPD.
“As explained in the enclosed affidavit and supporting documentation, Fort Smith Police Department Captain Jarrard Copeland lied under oath in front of Judge James O. Cox on August 29, 2014. His false testimony was in regard to a material fact that was integral in the court reaching its decision. Accordingly, all of the elements of perjury, as defined in Ark. Code Ann. § 5-53-102(a) appear to have been met,” Campbell noted in his letter to Shue.
Shue, who at the time was in Little Rock, said he would reply Monday (Jan. 25) to Campbell’s request when he returned to Fort Smith. However, meetings in Little Rock cancelled by weather allowed Shue to return earlier than planned. In his Friday response, Shue encouraged Campbell to seek an investigation.
“I have read over and reviewed the materials you provided to my office on January 20, 2016. Anytime that my office receives a complaint from a citizen that a felony offense has been committed, that matter is referred to local law enforcement for investigation. Obviously, an offense report must be made by you to the investigating agency in order for them to begin any investigation they deem appropriate. We do not pursue felony charges on citizen complaints unless an offense report is made, an investigation is conducted, and a law enforcement officer comes to my office to request a felony arrest warrant. Therefore, I am referring you to either the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office or the Arkansas State Police to begin that process,” Shue noted.
Campbell told Talk Business & Politics that he understands the process, and will contact the Sebastian County Sheriffs Department. However, Campbell is suspicious of the Friday decision by Shue.
“While Captain Copeland’s perjury is clear cut and the documents involved speak for themselves, I can certainly respect Mr. Shue’s decision to have this investigated by an outside agency if that is the standard process that his office follows. My only concern is that Mr. Shue previously said he would not even review the documents until Monday, but he sent this letter out on a snowy Friday; I hope this means that he wants the investigation started sooner, rather than later, and is not an effort to bury his decision beneath a snow day and a weekend news cycle,” Campbell wrote in a message to Talk Business & Politics.