Trumann city council to vote on new police chief - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Trumann city council to vote on new police chief

TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) – Tuesday night, the Trumann City Council will vote, on a recommendation by mayor Sheila Walters, for the new police chief.

Walters says she will announce her decision before council members tonight and expects the council to agree with her decision. This recommendation comes after Former Police Chief Tony Rusher resigned in the wake of a criminal misconduct investigation conducted by the Arkansas State Police.

On March 6, Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington asked investigators from Arkansas State Police to investigate Rusher after Rusher admitted to a private investigator and former Arkansas State police officer Phil Carter that he took prescription drugs from the police evidence locker that were meant to be destroyed.

According to Mayor Walters, Rusher verbally resigned at 12:30 p.m. from office February 27 after the internal investigation was launched mid-February.

Mayor Walters said on the recommendation of Ellington, she hired Carter after hearing multiple reports concerning Rusher and prescription medicine stored in the police evidence room.

"About three weeks prior to (the investigation results) coming to me, another source had mentioned to me that they thought there'd been a problem with some sort of drug incident with Tony," said Walters.

Based on accounts from Rusher, Assistant Police Chief Gary Henry, Detective Erik Willbanks, Investigator Jerry Lindsey, Sergeant Lenny Becker and Detective Anthony Dale Parker, the report details Rusher's personal use of medications from inactive police investigations that were meant to be destroyed, and "erratic", "moody" behavior dating back to 2010.

According to Carter, Rusher listed medicines he uses on a daily basis—including Xanax, Hydrocodone, Percocet, Effexor, an unknown blood pressure pill, and Ambien.

Carter said Rusher told him he "did not consider pills that had been through court as evidence" and that "these pills were going to be destroyed anyway."

Rusher said he was "hooked on Hydrocodone and wanted to get treatment for the addiction."

"It's my understanding that he has been in a facility," said Mayor Walters.

Rusher had been on paid administrative leave since mid-February pending the outcome of the investigation.

Mayor Walters said she will start taking applications for the position of police chief while Henry serves as interim chief.

Not long after Rusher's resignation, another officer was reprimanded from an internal investigation.

Mayor Walters said Detective Erik Wilbanks was suspended for two weeks without pay stemming from the Tony Rusher investigation.

According to the investigation documents, Wilbanks knew Police Chief Tony Rusher was taking prescription drugs. According to Mayor Walters, detective Erik Willbanks was fired from the Trumann police force in mid-March for his part in the investigation.

Region 8 News will continue to track this story and bring you any new details as soon as they become available.

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