Trumann city council to vote on new police chief

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

Walterssays she will announce her decision before council members tonight and expectsthe council to agree with her decision. This recommendation comes after FormerPolice Chief Tony Rusher resigned in the wake of a criminal misconductinvestigation conducted by the Arkansas State Police.

OnMarch 6, Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington askedinvestigators from Arkansas State Police to investigate Rusher after Rusheradmitted to a private investigator and former Arkansas State police officerPhil Carter that he took prescription drugs from the police evidence lockerthat were meant to be destroyed.

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

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

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

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

According to Carter, Rusherlisted 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" andthat "these pills were going to be destroyed anyway."

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

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

Rusher had been on paidadministrative leave since mid-February pending the outcome of theinvestigation.

Mayor Walters said she willstart taking applications for the position of police chief while Henry servesas interim chief.

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

Mayor Walters said DetectiveErik Wilbanks was suspended for two weeks without pay stemming from the TonyRusher investigation.

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

Region 8 News will continue totrack this story and bring you any new details as soon as they becomeavailable.

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