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Convicted Officer To Stay As Police Chief

Jake Wasikowski

Convicted Officer To Stay As Police Chief

CREATED Mar. 29, 2013

The City of Sulphur Springs, Arkansas hired Coleman “Duke” Brackney as Police Chief, just 3 years after he shot and killed Omaha native James Ahern.  The Mayor of Sulpher Springs stands behind his hire.

In January 2010 Corporal Brackney followed Ahern on a high speed chase on a Northwest Arkansas highway while working for the Bella Vista Police Department.  Investigators say after Ahern stopped, Brackney fired 5 shots on Ahern, and one more believed to be the fatal shot.  He said Ahern was going to run him over.  Prosecutors charged Brackney with Manslaughter, but he pleaded Guilty to Misdemeanor Negligent Homicide.  He spent about a month in jail.  In 2012, a state board let him keep his CLEST officer certification.  He's now chief of police in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas.

The family of Ahern, who lived in Omaha for 30 years, wants the new police chief fired.

"There's just no reason why this individual should be a police officer,” said Stephen Postert, Ahern’s brother-in-law. "When somebody is murdered you expect to get some justice in return for murder, and there's just nothing being done."

The Bella Vista Police Department's internal investigation says Brackney violated policy by pursuing Ahern, and he should've never fired his service weapon because he wasn't in danger.  Ahern's family would like to see him fired, but the mayor of Sulphur Springs says it won't happen.

Mayor Bobby Simon told KMTV Action 3 News, "The (Benton County) sheriff had no problem with him being hired. The state didn't pull his certification.  He was just as capable as any other police officer.”

After pleading guilty to Negligent Homicide, a jury did find Brackney guilty in civil court awarding Ahern’s family $20,000.

"It's just a good old boys place down there and everybody covers everybody's back," said Ahern’s sister, Barbara Postert.

"Psychologically I don't believe that he's capable of protecting human life because he's taken them and he shows no remorse for it," Stephen Postert described.

Chief Brackney did not return phone calls from KMTV Action 3 News.  Sulphur Springs, Arkansas is a town of 700 people and as chief; Brackney is the only police officer.