Sheriff Bruce Pennington at his press conference Monday. (Photo: Steve Payne, THV 11)
BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) - Days after Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington was arrested and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, he held a press conference Monday to apologize for his actions and explain what happened Saturday night.
On Monday afternoon, Pennington said this incident speaks to the citizens of the county.
"It just goes to show the people of Saline County that no one is above the law, not even the sheriff," he said.
Pennington took responsibility for what he called a "lapse of judgment," which led to his arrest. He admitted to making a mistake and said, "I'm human" before apologizing to Saline County, then promising it will not happen again.
The sheriff also recalled what happened at Denton's Trotline in Benton Saturday night, when he spent about ten minutes at the establishment. He said a customer at Denton's called Benton police after seeing the intoxicated Pennington leave the restaurant and get in his car.
Pennington said he never planned on driving himself home since he had two drinks while at Denton's.
"I did text a friend to come pick me up because I wasn't gonna drive but unfortunately, or fortunately, the Benton Police Department arrived on scene first," he explained.
The arrest came after the sheriff became angry while police attempted to administer a breathalyzer test.
"I was just belligerent you know? I couldn't tell you how many DWIs I've arrested in my career and I've never seen one that was just really happy to be there. And I guess that's probably my frame of mind at the time," he admitted.
Pennington said his friend did arrive on scene shortly after police. He also said he respects the officer who arrested him, his friend, for doing his job. While Benton police said he was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, Pennington said he was charged with "public consumption."
Police said Sheriff Pennington was not charged with DUI because his keys were not in the ignition when they approached him.
The former Arkansas State Police officer has no plans to step down from his position and says he will pay any fines associated with the charges.
Prosecuting attorney Ken Casady told THV 11 Wednesday that he's made a motion requesting a special prosecutor because he and Pennington are friends. Wanting to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Casady said, "While we would have handled the case firmly but fairly, this situation is one where a special prosecutor is proper."
Judge Mike Robinson granted Casady's request, but a special prosecutor has not been appointed yet. Pennington's next court date is set for August 5.
This is not the first time Pennington has been accused in misconduct while on duty. To read about accusations from his time with the Arkansas State Police, click here: http://on.kthv.com/12hF4mN