Eric Arthur was arrested Thursday afternoon (Aug. 18) following a warrant issued by Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue.
Arthur is charged with battery in the third degree for “recklessly causing physical injury,” in a Tuesday night altercation with Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders. The incident happened following Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fort Smith Board of Directors. According to witnesses, including City Director Don Hutchings, Arthur shoved Sanders in the chest, knocking him to the ground.
Arthur, a former city director candidate, claims Sanders made the initial contact and that he did not shove the mayor. Citing back and stomach pain, Arthur was taken by ambulance to hospital following the incident.
“I’m willing to do a lie detector test as long as Mayor Sanders is willing to do a lie detector test,” Arthur said in his only statement to The City Wire.
Sanders and Arthur had had several verbal confrontations during Tuesday night’s board meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, after the board approved the minutes of the previous meeting, Arthur stepped to the floor microphone and told the board that those watching the meeting on television could not hear. Sanders told him he was not recognized to speak. The two talked over each other for a minute before City Police Chief Kevin Lindsey walked to the front of the room, after which Arthur finally sat down. Sanders then opened the first business item and the meeting continued.
Jerry and John Hamel were present at the incident and gave accounts that matched Arthur’s, saying they believed Sanders had chest-bumped Arthur. The Hamel’s were on Thursday supposed to provide written statements to the Fort Smith Police Department.
“We never got those,” said Sgt. Daniel Grubbs with the FSPD.
The charge is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both.
According to the conditions of Arthur’s bond, he is not allowed to have contact with Mayor Sanders and is prohibited from attending city board meetings until the matter is adjudicated.
Shue’s office released this statement late Thursday.
An Information has been filed in the Sebastian County District Court, Fort Smith Division, charging Eric John Arthur with Battery in the Third Degree, a Class “A” Misdemeanor, in violation of A.C.A. §5-13-203, which is alleged to have been committed on the 16th day of August, 2011. As part of that filing, an Arrest Warrant has been issued for the Defendant. Pursuant to the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, the above-listed charge is merely an accusation and the Defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.