A police chief in Arkansas is resigning after claiming he was targeted by supporters of the Second Amendment, who he says vandalized his truck and set it aflame, but some theorize the chief is weaving a false story to demonize constitutionalists.
On Monday, Bald Knob Police Chief Erek Balentine announced his resignation after claiming his personal truck had been vandalized overnight.
Photos of Balentine’s truck show it spraypainted with the term “2 Amendment.” The perpetrator also evidently set the vehicle ablaze.
In a statement to local CBS affiliate THV11, Balentine claimed his decision to leave the department was motivated by his desire to protect his family and stemmed from the vandalism.
“I feel that I am bettering the safety of my family and my new born child. If someone could stoop as low enough to burn my truck then I don’t want to take that chance to endanger my family. I am officially resigning and my last day will be October 5th. I will continue my support for Bald Knob Police Department and the city. The council has been in support of me from the beginning and I appreciate all of them. I will continue to help Bald Knob every way that I can and support the New Chiefs Department. I will continue to pursue all cases that I have, including the open carry case.”
The “open carry case” Balentine refers to is that of Richard Chambless, who was sentenced last month in the White County District Court.
Chambless was arrested in Bald Knob in May after open-carrying a firearm at a McDonald’s, an act he argued followed provisions outlined in Arkansas Act 746, which makes it illegal for a person to carry a firearm “with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun… as a weapon against a person.”
Late last month, Chambless was found guilty and sentenced to 15 days in jail, fined $2,160 and ordered to serve one year of probation. His lawyer said they would appeal the judge’s decision.
Balentine was instrumental in bringing Chambless’ case to court, but the timing of his resignation more closely follows an incident which occurred last week, in which police approached two open-carry advocates standing outside the Bald Knob police station, not because of their weapons, but because they were photographing the building.
In that incident, which occurred over the weekend and was covered by the website Photography is Not a Crime, two police officers detained 22-year-old activist Kaleb White and another man, but did not indicate a reason for detainment.
White, who says he has successfully filmed other police departments without being harassed, theorizes Chief Balentine “may have faked the incident as a way to save face over his rigid stance against open carrying guns in public – a view that contradicted state law – putting the town of Bald Knob at a liability risk,” according to PINAC.
“I don’t believe he’s leaving for the reasons he gave,” White told PINAC. “I believe he’s leaving because he’s caused so much embarrassment to that city. I also believe Photography is Not a Crime had something to do with it. You guys taking the story and bringing it to national attention may have lead to a ‘forced’ resignation.”
The incident is reminiscent of one which occurred Monday, in the neighboring State of Texas, where Whitney resident Scott Lattin was arrested after claiming that Black Lives Matter supporters had spraypainted his truck, which he had just outfitted with a “Police Lives Matter” decal. Police later determined Lattin may have vandalized his own truck in an attempt to collect insurance money.
Another incident, this one involving possible police dishonesty, occurred earlier this month in Massachusetts when a Millis officer claimed his vehicle was attacked by gunfire. “According to Fox 25 News Boston, Millis police determined the officer had fabricated the entire story after conducting an extensive search and multiple interviews,” Mikael Thalen wrote.
“The officer’s initial claims resulted in a widespread manhunt, which included the deployment of the department’s Air Wing helicopter, as well as the closure of numerous public buildings including schools and libraries.”
Indeed, considering the fierce battles over Second Amendment rights and police overreach respectively, the chief’s sudden resignation should raise questions about whether he is being truthful, or may have been attempting to demonize Second Amendment supporters.