Arkansas police officer fired for pointing gun at driver during traffic stop

Arkansas police officer fired for pointing gun at driver during traffic stop
Terry Daugherty

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (WMC) - Helena-West Helena police have fired an officer who pointed his gun at a man during a traffic stop earlier this year.

Terry Daugherty was on paid administrative leave pending the investigation into whether he used excessive force. According to the department, his employment was terminated Aug. 9.

HWHPD says Daugherty and his partner stopped a vehicle May 26 for loitering in a gas station parking lot. Daugherty asked for the driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance several times and ultimately pulled his gun, pointing it at the driver.

Helena-West Helena police officer under investigation after arrest

Body camera footage showed an officer later find a rifle inside the driver’s vehicle.

The driver was arrested and taken to jail for gun possession, loitering, resisting arrest and failure to comply. The department says no formal charges were ever filed and the driver was released.

HWHPD says an internal investigation determined Daugherty violated department policy because the driver demonstrated no imminently dangerous behavior. It also says Daugherty violated policy when he turned off his body camera during the booking process and when he returned the rifle to the driver without verifying the weapon.

In a memo from Police Chief James Smith to the mayor, Smith says he considered a lengthy suspension and transfer but ultimately recommended Daugherty’s dismissal.

Smith wrote: “Officer Daugherty’s inability to understand, even in hindsight, that his behavior was unnecessarily aggressive, an abuse of discretion and negatively impacted the community’s confidence our police service, offers me no pathway to confidently believe that his behavior will improve or change, especially with a pending internal affairs use of force case and a founded case as well.”

Several other officers were suspended without pay for violating departmental policy related to the incident, including failing to activate their body cameras. Daugherty’s partner, Corp. Shirley Tyner, resigned from the department in July.

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