FAYETTEVILLE — The city’s deputy police chief says the officers involved in the Nov. 6 disorderly conduct arrest of two Razorback football players did nothing wrong, while an attorney for one of the players says the officers overreacted.
Anthony Brown, 19, and Myles Slusher, 20, were arrested about 2 a.m. Nov. 6 as the bars were closing on West Avenue near Dickson Street. Body camera footage shows several people standing in the middle of West Avenue at the time, with a barricade blocking traffic near Dickson Street.
Deputy Police Chief Jamie Fields said officers typically shut down West Avenue from near Watson to Dickson streets when bars close in that area on weekends to get people out faster. That part of the entertainment district sees large numbers of people congregate when bars close, presenting the potential for fights and conflicts as people linger, he said.
Officers working that night were driving around and trying to get people off West Avenue to reopen it to traffic, Fields said. Body camera footage shows a handful of officers telling people to get off the street.
A camera worn by Officer Nick White shows two other officers walking south on West Avenue between several people standing in the street. One officer goes to talk to a group to the west, and the other officer, Jared Barnett, heads east and approaches Brown, who is standing near the curb with Slusher.
Barnett grabs Brown’s right arm and moves him to the sidewalk. Brown can be seen pushing the officer’s hand down and then pushing Barnett away with one hand.
From there, Barnett takes Brown to the floor. He and another officer restrain Brown. Brown asks Barnett why he put his hands on him.
“Because I told you to get off the street,” Barnett says.
Brown asks Barnett what is being restricted.
“Because you don’t listen,” Barnett says. “There’s no reason to have to tell you twice to get off the street.”
Fields said Barnett interacted with Brown earlier in the evening when he was standing in the street. That first interaction was not recorded by the camera Barnett was using, Fields said.
In later footage, Brown tells officers several times that Barnett cursed at him and “aggressively” pushed him to the sidewalk. The audio from Barnett’s body-worn camera doesn’t start until Brown pulls him away.
“If somebody puts their hands on a Fayetteville police officer in the entertainment district or anywhere else, I hope they make an arrest,” Fields said.
White can be heard on the video telling Barnett that he saw Brown look at Barnett before pushing him.
In a report, Barnett said he found a small bag of marijuana on Brown, which he seized for destruction.
Fields said he reviewed the footage and it appeared Barnett did not violate any policies or any other officers. The picture matches what officers wrote in their reports, he said.
“We’re always looking at our operation and saying how can we do it better,” Fields said. “I think there’s something to be learned in all our interactions about how we can handle them better.”
The video is unclear as to what happened to Slusher. When Slusher steps in, the video becomes too choppy to discern what’s going on.
Adam Rose, Slusher’s attorney, said Slusher tapped an officer on the shoulder after the altercation with Brown began asking what was going on. Another officer pulled Slusher out and told him he was under arrest, Rose said.
There was no need to arrest the couple, Rose said.
“I think it was an overreaction for a fairly minor foul,” he said. “I believe these officials in some way, shape or form targeted these players.”
Neither Slusher nor Brown were deliberately standing in the street to antagonize officers, Rose said. A large crowd gathered and both men moved with the flow of the crowd, Rose said.
Rose said he is pursuing the least possible offense for Slusher.
“I don’t think he was trying to force the officer,” Rose said. “I think he was honestly just trying to de-escalate the situation, that’s what he told me. He was confused.”
Brown does not yet have an attorney listed in Fayetteville District Court records.
Both men were charged with disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $500. The appearance of both is scheduled for December 1.