Fire Chief Shot in Court Over Tickets

Yes, that headline is not an exaggeration. The Chief of the Jericho Fire Department went to court and was shot by the police for disputing two tickets requiring two trips to the court house.

JERICHO, Ark. — It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.

The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

Now the police chief has disbanded his force “until things calm down,” a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations and sheriff’s deputies are asking where all the money from the tickets went. With 174 residents, the city can keep seven police officers on its rolls but missed payments on police and fire department vehicles and saw its last business close its doors a few weeks ago.

“You can’t even buy a loaf of bread, but we’ve got seven police officers,” said former resident Larry Harris, who left town because he said the police harassment became unbearable.

But lets not be hasty, these brave men in blue are putting their lives on the line after all.

“When I first moved out here, they wrote me a ticket for going 58 mph in my driveway,” 75-year-old retiree Albert Beebe said.

Well obviously Albert Beebe was going 58 miles per hour in his drive way because why would the police lie. Oh…wait, they aren’t sure where all the traffic fine money went, hmmmm….

It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.

It’s unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.

I’m sure it was totally justified and in line with departmental policies. After all, who knows Payne might have had a pencil or paper clip on him. Those are danerous weapons you know.

Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said Thursday that he didn’t plan to file any felony charges against the officer or Payne. Fairley, reached at his home, said Payne could face a misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle, but that would be up to the city’s judge. He said he didn’t remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

What a shock the prosecutor backs up the cop who discharges his gun at an unarmed person in a crowded room and also wounds a fellow cop in the process. Police professionalism at its highest.

Alexander, the judge, has voided all the tickets written by the department both inside the city and others written outside of its jurisdiction — citations that the department apparently had no power to write. Alexander, who works as a lawyer in West Memphis, resigned as Jericho’s judge in the aftermath of the shooting, Fairley said. She did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies want to know where the money from the traffic fines went. Martin said that it appeared the $150 tickets weren’t enough to protect the city’s finances. Sheriff’s deputies once had to repossess one of the town’s police cruisers for failure to pay on a lease, and the state Forestry Commission recently repossessed one of the city’s fire trucks because of nonpayment.

City hall has been shuttered since the shooting, and any records of how the money was spent are apparently locked inside. No one answered when a reporter knocked on the door on Tuesday.

So lets do a quick recap.

  • The police shot an unarmed man from behind when in scuffle with 6 other police officers.
  • No charges will be brought against the police officer from the local prosecutor.
  • Nobody knows where the money from the various speeding tickets went.
  • The police were writing tickets outside their jurisdiction.
  • City Hall is shut down.

Anyone doubt that the cops saw this as their own private racket and were using the tickets to line their own pockets? And what is up with the police officers in Jericho? Are they all totally out of shape morons that couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag? Six of them are scuffling with one man and they can’t subdue him and the seventh feels he has the justification to shoot the “perp”?

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Crime, Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, Policing, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. mpw280 says:

    Prosecutor doesn’t know who fired the shot? WTF, everybody knows that there is a gunshot residue kit that would have told you the perp, as well as it would be the dick with the gun with one shot fewer than the others and have fresh residue on the barrel and action. Sounds like the cops in this town should be working for moveon or seiu being thugs for Obamacare. Gotta figure this will go Ricco as they used phones and what not to steal money from the city and attempted murder. mpw

  2. Drew says:

    C’mon, Steve, get a grip, man.

    The only people in society who are bad actors are doctors and businessmen, especially insurance executives. Haven’t you read the papers recently, or this very blog??

    Now, public officials…..well, they’d never abuse their power. Their intentions will always be good and pure……..and for the benefit of the elderly, the poor and of course, the children.

    So get with it, man! We need that public option!

  3. Triumph says:

    And what is up with the police officers in Jericho?

    Lets remember that this occurred in ARKANSAS–home of Hillary.

    With the Clinton-Obama group in charge right now, this type of stuff will soon be widespread. The same thing happened at the beginning of the Nazi reign.

  4. wr says:

    That’s a nice one, Drew. Except that a couple of weeks ago all you lovely righties were busy informing us that white police are completely infallible, and if there’s ever a dispute between the president of the United States and a white police officer, the cop has to be judged utterly right.

    Now that out of control cops have shot an unarmed man in courtroom they’re somehow Obama’s evil henchmen.

    I’m not looking for intellectual honesty from the right. That ship sailed a long time ago. But it would be nice if you would actually stick to your paranoid fantasies instead of jettisoning them every time it’s convenient. Really, it’s beginning to make you look cynical.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Where are Bo and Luke Duke when you need them?

  6. Gustopher says:

    I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation to this entire unfortunate incident.

    Was the fire chief black?

    Was it dark in the courthouse so he might have looked black?

    Does he have dark hair, so that a police officer might have mistaken the back of his head for the front of a black man’s head?

    Was the fire chief gay?

    Did the police officers think the fire chief was making a pass at them, and then panic when their sexuality was threatened?

  7. PD Shaw says:

    wr, troll much?

  8. sam says:

    With 174 residents, the city can keep seven police officers on its rolls

    Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ…

  9. Furhead says:

    Where are Bo and Luke Duke when you need them?


  10. Brian Knapp says:

    Complaining about tickets seems to be just a little bit more than the law will allow.

  11. peterh says:

    “I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation to this entire unfortunate incident.”

    I’m of the opinion that the fire Chief was a liberal. As surveys have attested, conservatives tend to convey way too much authority to police and generally assume that anyone in the crosshairs of police are guilty until proven otherwise. So, with this being the south and me with a broad brush, it’s fair to assume the 7 cops are white bible-thumping, hard drinking knuckledragging whackjobs with a history of wife beating and forced sex with female cited drivers. Liberal males that question that authority are…err…well….shot….

    Now, if this was Tennessee…..well… gets thrown back into the equation…..

  12. serfer62 says:

    So what do we know?
    1) The victim was white because PC rules required that the race be mentioned only if the victim is black.
    2) The shooter was black because PC rules that the assailent, if black, cannot have his race revealed.
    3) then it becomes obvious that the prosecuter is also black because of 1 & 2 and it would be discriminory to label a black as a possible suspect.
    4) So if 4 is true then requiring the alleged black assailent to be tested as a possible shooter becomes racial.
    The question then becomes how is it that a white racist is allowed to shoot himself if he is unarmed?
    Oh, its OK to call me a racist, I;m white don’t you know…

  13. G.A.Phillips says:


  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    Or was he a liberal and trying to bite someones fingers off, or maybe he was on hallucinogenics thought he was a doctor and was trying to cut a foot off somebody to make some quick cash?

  15. DL says:

    Jericho and a battle? Next, you’ll be telling us the unamed officer was a Joshua.

  16. Drew says:

    Its snark, wr.

    BTW – Your racism is duly noted.

  17. Seems awfully likely that there may be some fires at seven certain residences in Jericho, with an awfully slow response time from the FD.