by Brian A. Wilkins
11/4/2010 (links and photos updated November 13, 2018)
The January 20 murder of Mr. James Patrick Ahern by now former Bella Vista (AR) police thug Coleman Brackney will not grace the pages or airwaves of Arkansas “mainstream” media again until around December 7, when Brackney’s trial for a “manslaughter” charge is expected to begin. It is now abundantly clear, however, that this murder, which Brackney shot Mr. Ahern six times while he sat in his car, was avoidable, had the Bella Vista city government heeded the pleas of the citizens who elected them.
Mr. Matt Holland, a long time resident of Bella Vista, said that police state policies in Bella Vista are “standard protocol” and that Mayor Frank Anderson and Police Chief Ken Farmer “offer Carte blanche authority and indemnity to [their] law enforcement staff.”
Mr. Holland called the Bella Vista Police on July 11, 2009 (like many Americans would in times of emergency) when four strangers came to his house. One intruded into his home, while another threatened him with a shotgun. Two others physically assaulted him in his driveway. When these allegations, along with the assailants’ license plate numbers and description of all of them, were forwarded to Bella Vista police thugs Kelly Wallace and Charles Tomlin, both “officers” said there was nothing they could do for him. When Mr. Holland asked why they were letting the assailants off without pressing charges, thug Tomlin became angry and yelled at Mr. Holland to “shut up and go inside.” And the story begins here.
Mr. Holland, clearly baffled by the behavior of the “police,” began walking back into his home, now knowing the “police” were totally useless, and mumbled the words “Jesus Christ.” Thug Tomlin ordered Mr. Holland to come back and place his hands behind his back, arrested him, then placed him in the back of the cop car. A witness, Ms. Charity Sherwood, saw the entire incident. The cops then took Mr. Holland to their shop, “processed” him, and released him, without ever reading him any Miranda Rights or telling him why he was under arrest. They ultimately charged him with “disorderly conduct.”
The next year would take Mr. Holland to court four times, on charges of saying “Jesus Christ” on his own property, which is what the arrest boiled down too. Mr. Holland learned that both “officers” Tomlin and Wallace lied to the prosecutor, when they say he “cussed” and “threatened violence” against them, which was why he was arrested. The case was eventually dropped after dragging this young man through nearly a year of hell and uncertainty.
Mr. Holland has written several emails to Mayor Frank Anderson, Police Chief Ken Farmer, and most of city council since the incident.
He has attended city council meetings, written letters, and has said he is willing to take polygraph tests to prove everything he says is true. Even Mr. Holland’s father, a well-respected dentist in northwest Arkansas, personally approached Chief Farmer in his office to voice his concerns about his son’s safety, at the hands of Bella Vista Police. Mr. Holland has repeatedly voiced his concerns over police thug Tomlin, who once told Mr. Holland “I can arrest you anywhere for anything.” Farmer and Anderson have repeatedly dismissed these serious allegation with arrogant indifference, culminating with Mayor Anderson telling Mr. Holland to “take it to court.”
The local media (somewhat) covered a police-involved incident with Ms. Carol Owens, the fiancee of the now deceased James Ahern.
It was about 1:30 a.m. on April 10, 2010, when Ms. Owens was on her way home from a late night grocery store run. A Bella Vista cop followed her, nearly bumper-to-bumper, all the way home with his high beams glaring into her windows and mirrors. This was also when the cop ran her license plates to determine she was THAT Carol Owens, the woman who’d been very vocal (to the displeasure of Farmer and his boys) about “Officer” Brackney murdering the man she calls the love of her life. The police thug turned on his blue lights and instead of immediately pulling her over, ordered Ms. Owens through his bullhorn to continue driving to the next street; a completely deserted and dark street.
The cop exited the car in a police thug rage, accusing Ms. Owens of swerving all over the road, driving through a stop sign, and of being intoxicated. Ms. Owens, who is diabetic, does not drink alcohol. Regardless, the cop forced her to blow into a breathalyzer not once, not twice, but FOUR times. The cop, who became more enraged with each “0.00” reading, threatening Ms. Owens with an open-ended taunt by saying she had “one more chance to get this right.”
The police thug, now with “backup” there, then ordered Ms. Owens out of her car and gave her a field sobriety test, trying anything he could to charge her with some sort of manufactured crime. When she passed that, the police thug then asked Ms. Owens if she was on drugs. This cop would make up laws as he went along, threatening Ms. Owens when she told him she takes blood pressure medication: “driving while taking prescription drugs is illegal,” the not-very-intelligent cop said. Ms. Owens was ultimately “allowed” to go home without being charged with any manufactured crimes.
Chief Farmer, of course, brushed the incident off as standard protocol, when he told a local newspaper that the “officer did not know who he was pulling over” and continued, “the officer thought he was pulling over a drunk driver.” Ms. Owens has received similar responses from Mayor Anderson and the city attorney regarding not only this incident, but when she had requested information into the murder of her fiancee.
What complicates these matters more is the undetermined role of Benton County Attorney Van Stone in all of Bella Vista’s government malfeasance.
Residents of Bella Vista, based on emails we received early in the “investigation” leading to police thug Brackney being charged with only manslaughter, thought Stone may be a rare “good guy” in Northwest Arkansas government. This (with all due respect) naive confidence has dissipated as time has passed.
The fact that Mr. Ahern was shot six times while he sat in his car by Brackney; and only being charged with manslaughter is where the questions start. Several residents have now pointed out to us that Stone asked a judge (and was granted permission) to use the results of the Bella Vista Police’s internal investigation at Brackney’s trial. The problem with this is that Stone did not disclose what those results were to the court. These results have also been well-hidden from the public, at the pleasure of Chief Ken Farmer.
Stone also seems to be completely ignoring Brackney’s past as a cop in Gravette, AR. Though we requested Brackney’s entire disciplinary file from the Gravette Police (via a Freedom of Information request), they insist he was never disciplined for thug behavior. However, a resident of Gravette, who does not want their name disclosed for fear of retaliation, said Brackney was ultimately fired from the force for punching an unwitting “suspect” in the face and after said suspect complained about the incident.
Yet, according to Gravette Police Chief Trent Morrison’s email to Operation Nation:
“Coleman Duke Brackney began employment as a part time officer on April 7, 2004. He completed part time training on Aug 12, 2004. He submitted his letter of resignation on March 28, 2005 to be effective April 08, 2005. He resigned for personal reasons that he did not explain. We received no citizen complaints on Mr. Brackney during his tenure with our department, therefore there was no disciplinary action taken against him.”
There are numerous other incidents from Bella Vista residents which have been brought to our attention, from illegal searches, illegal seizures, and just a flat-out disregard for the Constitutional rights of citizens by Bella Vista Police. However, virtually all of the victims do not want their names disclosed for fear of retaliation by Chief Farmer’s boys. Here is a compilation of comments by Mr. Matt Holland from various sources.
Brackney should have never been a “police officer” in Bella Vista to begin with, had the city done its due diligence investigating his background; thus, Mr. Ahern would still be with us today. It is only a matter of time before another one of these “officers” kills or severely injures someone else, since the mayor and chief encourage and reward this behavior.
Though Brackney could get the maximum 10 year sentence from this “manslaughter” charge, don’t bet on it, based on precedent in Arkansas. We will continue following this through the end of the trial, which we’d be very surprised if Brackney gets anymore than a 90 day jail sentence.