(Publishers note: As of close of busness on Tuesday, the city of Fort Smith has still not responded fully to our Freedom of Information Request from April 19. Today in Fort Smith will be seeking legal recourse in an effort to get them to comply with our lawful request for information.)
Fort Smith Chief of Police Danny baker
The chief of police of the city of Fort Smith revealed compelling information to a local television concerning a secret, in-house investigation into a falsified accident report and the station apparently ran that information without doing any research into the situation.
That station, KHBS, blatantly sourced the story from Today in Fort Smith after we made the results of the investigation public on Saturday, April, April 24. The station ran the story, by 'journalist' Brett Rains, on Monday without accrediting TIFS and disseminating incorrect information concerning the incident and the cover-up that followed.
Officers Hendricks and Coder in happier days.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also picked up the story today (Tuesday, April 27) but it's unclear if they sourced our original report or took their information from the television report.
The falsified report, involving a minor accident by now-fired K9 officer Michael Coder in his patrol unit, was filed by officer Lauren Hendricks who later went to chief Baker and confessed what she had done.
Officer Lauren Hendricks
The date on the report was listed as four days after the actual accident on April 12 (our original source had given us April 13 as the date) and the dates were reportedly altered to protect Coder.
Hendricks later claimed she had been ordered by narcotics supervisor John Little to file the report with the wrong date and participate in the cover-up. Little stepped down during the investigation and Coder was later fired for "being untruthful".
Hendricks, who is related to local Circuit Judge Annie Hendricks, signed the report with the incorrect date listed as February 12, 2021 in a space that says "The information contained on this report is true to the best of my knowledge and belief".
She estimated the cost of the damages at $500.
Discrepencies between the information our research uncovered and the information in the television report by Rains and 40/29 are glaring.
Baker told 40/29 the actual incident occurred Feb. 12 during an attempted arrest and that both officers and their supervisor were present.
However, our original source stated the accident occurred at the FSPD impound lot, located at a dead end in the 900 block of South R. Street.
The south R address was the location Hendricks put on the report she filed with the incorrect date.
However, TIFS has been told by another source the actual accident may have occurred in another location on February 12 when Coder made a stop on a vehicle and then backed into a dumpster after the stop.
That scenario dovetails with Baker's statement about the accident occurring during an "attempted" arrest". But it also reveals that not only the date of the accident was falsified, but the location as well.
In the false report, Hendricks stated: "On February 16, I arrived at 900 South R to take an accident report". She further stated that "Our supervisor was notified".
Neither of those written statements on the report are consistent with Baker's account. The "attempted arrest" would not have occured at the city impound lot. And if former narcotic supervisor Little was at the "attempted arrest" why would he have to have been notified about the accident?
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