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Legal suit filed against city of Bryant, policeman

December 11, 2012

A lawsuit accusing a Bryant police officer of unlawfully arresting a county resident following a motor vehicle accident involving the plaintiff's wife has been filed in U.S. District Court, Western Division of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The plaintiff, Robert Burdett of Bryant, cites nine specific counts related to the alleged incident. Named as defendants are the city of Bryant and Police Officer Michael Turner.
According to the complaint filed Dec. 5, Burdett requests a jury trial.
The complaint stems from an incident that allegedly occurred on Aug. 18, 2011.
The suit states that Burdett's wife was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Bryant. She called Burdett to tell him what had happened, and Burdett went to the scene, where Bryant police officers were working the accident.
The suit notes that Burdett had had previous experience with Bryant police officers investigating an accident in which he had an interest, and he had complained that they were not competent in their manner of investigating and reporting motor vehicle accidents.
The plaintiff notes, in the suit, that he began taking photos of the accident scene for several purposes including, but not limited to gathering evidence about the accident, to be able "to document the police department's inefficiency, incompetency and inability to effectively investigate and report on motor vehicle accidents and to gather information about what public officials do on public property in the interest of public policy."
Burdett's complaint alleges that he was challenged by Bryant police officers for taking the photographs and was eventually ordered by Turner to "stop taking photos and to leave the scene."
In the suit, Burdett notes that he left the scene, but states that Turner detained him nearby on a traffic stop, "stating he (Turner) was going to issue him a citation for his manner of driving."
Turner arrested Burdett for disorderly conduct and placed him in jail, the suit states.
The plaintiff also alleges that Turner did not have a lawful reason for arresting him and that Turner did not follow the department's usual arrest policy. He also accuses Turner of using excessive force in making the arrest.
The original arrest was reported Sept. 7, 2011, in the Saline Courier Police Beat. The account stated: "Bryant Officer Michael Turner said he was assisting at the scene of an automobile accident on Aug. 18 when he noticed Robert A. Burdett, standing in the roadway of Arkansas 183. Another officer said that Burdett, 57, of Bryant was 'causing problems' at the scene. Turner said after he told Burdett to leave the scene, Burdett accelerated 'to the point where his tires threw rocks and upon entering the roadway spun his tires.'
"Turner then stopped Burdett a short distance later and reportedly would not cooperate with officer commands. "Burdett was charged with careless and prohibited driving, no proof of insurance, disorderly conduct, and obstructing the highway."
In a subsequent court proceeding, Burdett was found not guilty of disorderly conduct in relation to the arrest, the suit states.
Representing Burdett in the action is Reggie Koch of the Koch Law Firm in Little Rock.

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