ENGLAND, Ark – An officer with the England Police Department is deemed “in the right” after a video surfaced on social media showing the officer dragging a suspect across the road.
Last week, family of Eligha Thomas said the arrest should have been handled differently because Thomas has a mental health condition.
Following the interview with the Thomas family, the England Police Department released body camera footage of the event.
England Police Chief Bill Duerson says after reviewing the video, he believes the Officer Chris Holmes was in the right.
“This is not a mental health case, this was a criminal side of it,” Duerson said.
As the tape begins, Holmes is seen approaching Thomas at a local laundry mat.
“It’s kind of common knowledge that we will carry on a conversation with him to kind of gauge where he’s at,” Duerson said.
Duerson says Thomas has a known mental health illness and his officers are trained to detect it.
“I hate to say this, but he was in his right mind,” Duerson said.
Moments later Holmes notifies Thomas of a warrant for his arrest in Pulaski County.
Thomas takes off running and is eventually handcuffed by Holmes. It’s at this moment, mental health comes into question.
Family says Thomas wasn’t in his right mind and couldn’t understand Holmes as he told him to stand up.
Police say Thomas was aware of what was going on and therefore deemed it “passive resistance.”
“You don’t grab them by their handcuffs, you don’t grab them by their elbow, you place one arm underneath at the arm pit and grab with the other and hold their body weight up and that’s exactly what officer Holmes did,” Duerson said.
Duerson says officers need to protect themselves and the person being arrested.
“In a situation like that that’s rapidly evolving of more and more participants and the lack of backup officer holms had one single thought, get him to a car that is the safe spot,” Duerson said.
Duerson says had the officer believed Thomas was having a mental health crisis, family would have been called and possibly an ambulance.
Officer Holmes is facing disciplinary action for some of the language that was used during the arrest. Duerson tells our station Holmes will go through a mandatory de-escalation training.