Helena-West Helena officer arrested for false imprisonment
HELENA-WEST HELENA, AR (WMC) - A Helena-West Helena police officer arrested and charged with false imprisonment remains on the job and said he is fighting the charge.
Charles Byrd, 41, has been an officer with Helena-West Helena Police Department since 2013.
After a two month investigation, Byrd was arrested and charged with false imprisonment.
"The charges are false charges. I'm not guilty of any of those charges," Byrd said. "I'm still a police officer in the city of Helena-West Helena."
Police Chief Virgil Green said the incident happened in October 2016 when a citizen filed a complaint against Byrd for false arrest and excessive force when she was arrested while walking into a doctor's office.
The victim, Natavia Williams, said she had been bitten by a spider and was walking to the doctor when Byrd arrested her.
"I was real mad I was treated like that because I had never been in a situation like that with an officer," Williams said.
Byrd was placed on administrative leave after the incident as an internal investigation was conducted, but he has since been placed back on the job. Byrd said Williams was walking in an area that was dangerous at the time and his actions were for her safety.
Officers were in the area because of reports of children running around with guns, but Williams' arrest was not related to this, according to Green.
"I did detain her and put her in the back of a car, but it was for her safety because we were on a shooting call," Byrd said. "She was in a danger zone."
Williams said Byrd never told her that.
"He needs to be fired. They need to take that badge away," Williams said.
The internal investigation revealed Williams was simply walking down the street and posed no threat to the officer, hadn't committed any crimes, and wasn't in any danger when she was arrested.
Green stated after a very intensive internal investigation and interviewing other officers and witness, the investigation determined Officer Byrd's actions were not within department policies and procedures.
Byrd was arrested, booked, and released without bond. He faces misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment.
"Under my administration, I will not tolerate officers who abuse their powers and the authority they have been sworn to uphold. Our job is to protect citizen's constitutional rights and to serve the public," Green said.
Byrd has not been terminated from the police force.
"Hopefully this will send a message our job is to get out and protect and serve," police chief Virgil Green said.
Helena-West Helena PD defended the rights of the citizen in a statement, which said in part:
"A citizen has the right to walk down any city street and they shouldn't fear that an officer will arrest them, just because the officer refused to allow them to walk down a city street. When an officer cross that line as hard as it may be, we have to be able to police ourselves."
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