Perry County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Byrd said it may be as soon as Wednesday (Jan. 26) when the department decides if it will pursue criminal charges against Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, for driving through the county at speeds above 100 m.p.h.
On Jan. 24, Byrd and the Ola Police Department finally stopped Holland after what Byrd said was a more than 20 mile chase with Holland reaching speeds of possibly 110 m.p.h.
Byrd, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, told The City Wire that he “may have egg on his face” for letting Holland go, but at the time was under the impression that Arkansas Legislators could not be fined or arrested.
Making an arrest was certainly what Byrd intended when they finally stopped Holland’s 2003 Nissan 350Z.
“I got out of my vehicle with my cuffs in my hands,” Byrd recalled. “I intended to take that young man to the Perry County jail.”
Holland issued this statement Tuesday morning: “I am truly sorry for what took place on the afternoon of Monday, January 24th. I was speeding and I made a mistake. I truly regret any embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends and fellow legislators. No one is above the law, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
By the time of this posting, Holland did not return messages from The City Wire left by e-mail and cell phone.
Byrd, a criminal investigator, said he and Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery will visit with a deputy prosecutor and review the legal options are. Byrd said it could be as early as Wednesday (Jan. 26) when they make a decision on if or how they will proceed.
Byrd and the Ola police officer were ready for trouble when chase finally ended.
“I’ve been trained to be prepared that when someone runs, they may have a reason to run,” Byrd said.
The first thing Holland attempted to explain was that he had a concealed-carry permit and his weapon was in the back of the car.
“I told him I didn’t much care about that weapon, that I was much more worried about what he had done to turn that vehicle into a weapon,” Byrd said.
As Holland was reaching for his driver’s license, Byrd noticed Holland’s nametag on his suit coat. Byrd said he was both angry and disappointed when Holland explained he was a State Senator.
“He said he was an Arkansas Senator from Greenwood. And my next remark was, ‘You gotta be kidding me?’ All of a sudden I went from the adrenaline rush of chasing someone like this to the realization that a state senator had just put us through this,” Byrd explained. “It just kind of killed my soul, you know what I’m saying, with him passing cars on hills and curves and solid yellow lines. He could have killed himself and others.”
Byrd said he became more angry when Holland explained that he had just bought the car and was merely trying it out.
“I gave him a pretty good lecture. I was upset, and I was even more upset when I found out that the good people who voted for him had put their trust in him. The law may say they (Legislators) are exempt, but it doesn’t say I can’t give him a good chewing out,” Byrd said.
Holland’s statement about speeding also upset Byrd, who thinks the Senator is trying to downplay the seriousness of what happened.
“That was reckless driving. It was fleeing law enforcement and putting a lot of people in danger. It wasn’t just speeding,” Byrd explained.
Byrd said Holland did “mumble” an apology at the scene. But Byrd says he’s not sure whether Holland felt bad about his actions or felt bad about getting caught.
“But whatever he thinks, he don’t owe me an apology. He needs to go to his constituents and man up and tell them the full story of what he done and apologize to his constituents,” Byrd said.
Byrd also said citizens in the area who saw the chase are upset and are calling or sending letters to the Arkansas Senate and Gov. Mike Beebe’s office.