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Timeline: Sheriff Bruce Pennington

A look back on the events that took place beginning with Sheriff Bruce Pennington's arrest on July 29.
June 29 - Pennington Arrested

Benton Police officers arrested Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington and charged him with public intoxication.

Police said they tried to convince him not to drive and have someone pick him up, but he became belligerent and was subsequently arrested.


July 1 - Pennington Apologizes

Pennington apologized for his actions.

"I made a mistake. I'm human, and I apologize to the people of Saline County," the sheriff said in a news conference.  "I will continue to run the Sheriff's Office and make it (Saline County) a safe place to live."


July 11 - New Details Surface

Officer reports obtained by KARK shed more light on the incident.

Officers explain that after approaching the sheriff in his car in front of Denton's Trotline restaurant, they could smell strong odors of alcohol coming from his breath and car, and observed him staring blankly at his cellphone, which was in his lap.

The report says that at one point during the encounter, "the sheriff's speech was very slurred, his eyes were very glassy and watery, and while he was looking at me it appeared he was intoxicated to such a degree that he could not focus his eyes on me."

The report states that once they took the sheriff's keys, he became agitated, tried to get out of the car to get them back, then pushed an officer, balled up his fists and attempted to strike him with his closed right hand.


July 19 - Special Judge Assigned to Case

Rather than having a Benton or Saline County judge, Little Rock Criminal Court Judge Alice Lightle was assigned the case to avoid conflict of interest. The trial date is set for Aug. 5.


Aug. 1 - Attorneys Request More Time

Defense attorneys asked for more time to prepare for Pennington's trial, and the new trial date is set for Aug. 26.


Aug. 23 - Charges Change

One of the charges filed against Pennington was changed from refusal to submit to arrest to resisting arrest. The change made the charge a Class A misdemeanor instead of Class B misdemeanor.


Aug. 26 - Pennington Pleads Guilty

Pennington pleaded guilty to public intoxication and resisting arrest.  He also said he signed himself up for inpatient treatment.

Special Prosecutor for the case Cody Hiland said accountability needed to be held for the sheriff having taken a drunken swing at a city police officer during the incident that led to his arrest.


Aug. 30 - Pennington Announces Retirement

Pennington sent a letter to Saline County Judge Lanny Fite and the Quorum Court saying he will retire on Oct. 1.


Sept. 2 - Pennington Changes Mind

On Labor Day, Pennington decided he would like to keep working and retire when his term ends on Jan. 1, 2015.


Sept. 3 - Quorum Court Asks Pennington to Step Down

The Saline County Quorum Court voted unanimously on a resolution asking for Pennington to step down.

The meeting followed a Tuesday memo from Fite saying Pennington's "personal problems" are preventing him from "impartially performing" his official duties.  Fite said Pennington should leave office immediately.

During the meeting, a majority of speakers were against Pennington.

"This has been in the national news, and they are making fun of us for living here," one speaker said.

However, regardless of the events, some still supported the sheriff.

"I think he's done a pretty good job of keeping Saline County clean," another said.  "All of us make mistakes.  At least he stood up for it."

The possibility of further sanctions against Pennington was also discussed.

There was talk of forcing the sheriff out of office, but the county's attorney said he'd have to do more research on whether the quorum court has that power in this instance.


Sept. 5 - GOP Group Votes No Confidence

A GOP group in Saline County requested that its sheriff resign immediately.

On Thursday night, the Saline County Republican party voted no confidence in Pennington.

Documents released to KARK on Thursday show Pennington has been using the Saline County Sheriff's Department credit card and campaign account for personal use.

The credit card history lists purchases on food, a vacuum, hotel and other items that are being paid off with campaign funds. Some of the purchases listed in these documents range between 12 bucks to $245.

"My campaign funds were depleted, and I haven't gone out of seeking funds from anyone. That money that was in there has been placed in there by me. I didn't see an issue with using that account to pay for anything," said Pennington said.

A purchase that's raising questions is one made in the first week of August at a Louisiana casino. The purchase was made during the same time Pennington said he entered into an inpatient treatment facility to address his personal issues.

Even after the GOP's vote, Pennington says he's not going anywhere and that by law he can remain in office until the end of his term. He also said he planned to seek reelection. He said he had received an outpour of support from his supporters who have begged him not to retire.


Sept. 6 - Pennington Submits Second Letter of Resignation

Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington has submitted another letter informing the department of his retirement, to be effective Oct. 1.



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