|Would-be murder weapon: Fred Ensminger's pickup.|
"This guy ... just tried to run my husband over!" exclaimed Arkansas resident Cindy Nelson in a frantic 911 call on July 21. "Oh, my God -- he's shooting at us! Oh, my God!"
A few minutes later, Fred Ensminger -- the deranged assailant -- placed a 911 call of his own.
"This is Diamondhead 1106," Ensminger told the suddenly swamped dispatcher. I have been shot and I need medical at my front gate ASAP."
Ensminger is a recidivist criminal. Thanks to the fact that practically any bipedal simian with a pulse can become a police officer in Arkansas, Ensminger -- who just barely meets those criteria -- is employed by the Police Department of Diamondhead Arkansas, a gated community located south of Hot Springs.
A few minutes before Cindy Nelson told the 911 dispatcher that a "guy with a badge" was trying to murder her husband, she had passed Ensminger's pickup truck, which was parked by the side of the road.
As Nelson started to go around the truck, Ensminger -- whose penchant for abusive behavior was notorious in Diamondhead -- pulled out in front of her. According to an eyewitness, Ensminger "stopped suddenly," causing Nelson to slam on her brakes to avoid a collision.
According to the witness, Ensminger climbed out of his pickup truck and began to harangue Nelson. She reacted by pulling around him and proceeding down the road. An infuriated Ensminger followed in close pursuit.
With Ensinger's pickup truck looming in her rear-view, Nelson called her husband, Jerry Chambliss, and told him that she was being followed. She had no idea at this point that her stalker was an off-duty police officer.
After Nelson entered the gated community, Chambliss went into the driveway "with my arms up, palms out, hollering stop, stop, stop, what are you doing?" he later told investigators.
Ensminger gunned the pickup forward, striking Chambliss and knocking him down. He then compounded that act of attempted vehicular homicide by grabbing his 40 caliber Glock and firing several rounds into the garage. At some point Ensminger punctuated his acts of attempted criminal homicide by flashing his state-issued costume jewelry.
Chambliss raced into the house and retrieved a loaded 9mm handgun and returned fire, striking Ensminger in the shoulder and forcing the assailant to withdraw.
After Ensminger called for backup, Nelson made a second 911 call requesting a police officer. When the dispatcher replied that an officer was already on the premises, Nelson suggested that it might be worthwhile to send someone other than the person who had just perforated her home with gunfire.
"She [the dispatcher] kept telling me, `He's not the shooter-- he's a cop,'" Cindy Nelson related in an interview with Pro Libertate. "I kept trying to convince her that's what was happening -- that this cop just opened fire on our home. They never did send anyone to help us, even though they did send people after he [Ensminger] called 911."
After the police arrived, Nelson continues, "they had us on the ground in handcuffs for thirty minutes. They also spent six hours searching our house -- with our consent, I guess. After that they didn't even take my husband with them; they just said `We'll call you if we need to ask some more questions.'"
Note well that right from the beginning it was clear that Chambliss had acted legally, and that Ensminger, the assailant, had committed a criminal offense. Despite this, the official stance of the Diamondhead Police Department was that Chambliss was a "suspect," and that Ensminger had fallen heroically in the line of duty.
The shootout between Ensinger and Chambliss was originally described by the Diamondhead Police and the local media as growing out of a "domestic dispute." Chief Pat Mahoney and Garland County Deputy Judy Daniel told Little Rock's Fox 16 News that they were concerned about their injured comrade, who had been stricken in the line of duty as he was "investigating" a purported episode of domestic violence.
That official lie is indigestibly rich in irony, given the fact that Ensminger -- a "gypsy cop" who has been repeatedly fired and punished for disciplinary infractions and criminal acts -- was himself arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2006. The victim in that assault, which took place in front of the police station in Alexander, Arkansas, was a female police officer.
"We are very happy that the officer is OK and extremely glad that the suspect is in custody," stated Deputy Daniel shortly after that heroic defender of public order tried to murder Jerry Chambliss. "It just makes it easier on everybody, the other officers, his family."
Note how this description of "everybody" refers exclusively to those employed as agents of government coercion. The "civilian" who used righteous force to repel Ensminger's criminal assault apparently didn't count. Mere Mundanes never do.
|"Gypsy Cop" John Frederick Ensminger.|
Following surgery to remove the bullet he had received as a consolation prize for finishing second in a shoot-out, Ensminger filed the predictably perjurious official report.
Like too many others in his profession, Ensminger couples functional illiteracy with an unexpected gift for storytelling. He claimed to have observed Nelson driving erratically, and that she attempted to run him over when he displayed the trinket denoting his supposed authority.
That claim was demolished by contradictory eyewitness testimony, which established that while Ensminger screamed at Nelson and wagged a finger in her direction, he never flashed his badge.
Ensminger offered a similarly mendacious version of his encounter with Chambliss. In the officer's account, he was confronted by an "angry unknown man" who slammed his hands on the hood of his car telling him to get out of the driveway.
In this depiction, Chambliss shot Ensminger without provocation, and the off-duty cop returned fire in self-defense. Once again, that account couldn't be reconciled with the evidence assembled during an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.
In his official report, state Prosecuting Attorney Steve Oliver concluded that Chambliss "was justified in using deadly physical force in the defense of himself and his wife on July 21, 2010.... Under Arkansas law, Mr. Chambliss was not required to retreat if he was not the original aggressor."
This of necessity means that Fred Ensminger, the "original aggressor," committed multiple acts of criminal assault, and thus be subject to prosecution -- correct?
Oliver ruled that Ensminger displayed "poor judgment in his aggressive pursuit of Ms. Nelson to her residence but he acted with the belief that he was justified under color of law."
This unsupportable, invalid "belief" appears sufficient to exculpate Ensminger's repeated attempts to murder Jerry Chambliss. Oliver doesn't provide any other explanation for his decision not to file criminal charges of any kind against Ensminger, who not only remains free but (at least as of September 7) is reportedly still employed by the Diamondhead Police Department, even though he is currently enjoying a paid vacation (aka "administrative leave").
"Just because he has a badge he does not have the right to come down and kill citizens," Chambliss complained to Little Rock's Fox affiliate. According to Oliver, that state-issued bauble does indeed confer the authority to commit acts of discretionary murder. Oliver's report clearly suggests that if Ensminger had displayed his chintzy totem of official privilege during the highway confrontation with Cindy Nelson, Chambliss would be facing criminal charges.
"We've never had trouble of any kind with law enforcement before," Cindy Nelson remarked to Pro Libertate. "We're well-known here, and we've always been upstanding citizens. I'm a nurse, and my husband -- who served in the Navy -- has been a Real Estate broker and a candidate for office. My husband suffered severe bruising and other injuries after being run down. We never used to lock our doors, now we have three locks on every door and keep our cars locked at all times."
Chambliss is also undergoing treatment for what appears to be post-traumatic stress disorder. "This guy simply terrorized us," Cindy summarizes. She and her husband have some unfortunate company in Diamondhead.
"We're scared to have him in the community, quite frankly," commented Diamondhead resident Kimberly Gilsinger, whose children were threatened by the officer while swimming in a local lake.
|Hot Springs Officer Joey Williams assaults skateboarder.|
In late June, just weeks before Ensminger attempted to murder Jerry Chambliss, Gilsinger and her husband filed a complaint alleging that the officer had threatened to kill her son and five other local boys, the youngest of whom was ten years old.
Specifically, Ensminger allegedly said that "he would get in the water and drown every one of them if they didn't get out," Gilsinger recalled. The complaint also stated that Ensminger made a vague but unmistakable threat to shoot the kids.
(Arkansas police seem to attract child predators: Three years ago a tonsured thug named Joey Williams was captured on video choking and otherwise assaulting several young skateboarders on the streets of Hot Springs. His employer, the Hot Springs PD, ruled that his felonious assault was "justified," not that the suspense was unbearable.)
Ray Massey, President of the Diamondhead Property Association, told the Little Rock CBS affiliate that Ensminger "got a verbal reprimand and a warning" after committing what Gilsinger correctly describes as a "felony" by threatening to "harm or kill our children."
This was hardly the first criminal act Ensminger has committed in a career in law enforcement that began seven years ago.
Ensminger was fired little more than a year of being hired by the Shannon Hills Police Department. During that time he managed to shoot a suspect under dubious circumstances (the act was ruled "justified," as nearly all such shootings are) and a property theft charge. During that same busy 14-month span, reports THV-TV, "his record shows an assault case, which included a false statement to the police on Ensminger's part. That case eventually led to his firing."
He then migrated to the Alexander Police Department, where he was arrested on a domestic battery charge after he manhandled his girlfriend -- a fellow police officer named April Tirado -- outside the police station. Ensminger wasn't fired from that position; he was permitted to resign instead. Approximately a year later he was hired by the Diamondhead Police Department.
The Diamondhead PD refuses to release Ensminger's record, claiming that it is exempt from freedom of information laws because it is employed by a private entity, the Diamondhead Property Owners Association. It is more accurate to describe the POA as a "public-private" or corporatist body, since its police department -- as prosecutor Steve Oliver points out -- presumes to exercise coercive "authority" under "color of law," rather than simply protecting property rights pursuant to contract. If Ensminger were a Paul Blart-style private security guard, he would most likely be facing criminal charges.
John Frederick Ensminger, petty criminal and itinerant police officer, should be made the poster child for the problem of "Gypsy Cops" -- corrupt, abusive officers who drift from one agency to another, enjoying both immunity from prosecution and unassailable job security. This problem is particularly acute in Arkansas, where no certification of any kind is required to become a police officer.
To become a licensed practicing cosmetologist in the State of Arkansas, an applicant must pass a state board examination and complete 2,000 hours of specialized training. For an investment of 600 hours an applicant can qualify to work as a manicurist or instructor.
While Arkansas strictly regulates those who cut hair or paint nails in private, voluntary transactions, it imposes no training or licensing standards whatsoever on armed people clothed in government-issued costumes and the supposed authority to inflict lethal violence on others.
|Another view of the heroic Joey Williams in action.|
"The second night I ever put on a badge and gun I was riding in my own car," recalls Crittenden County Chief Deputy Tommy Martin. At the time, Martin was 21 years old and hadn't spent so much as a minute inside a police academy classroom, notes Jill Monier of Memphis's Fox News affiliate.
"According to Arkansas state law, officers do not have to be certified for up to a year after they're hired," observes Monier. "The Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training says they can get an 8 month extension on top of that. So for almost 2 years, an officer can patrol the streets, by his or herself, and enforce the law without having any kind of training."
Understandably, this system is a boon to "gypsy" cops. Each time a "gypsy" cop finds a new gig in Arkansas, his 12- to 20-month grace period begins all over again; in this way, officers can be enforcing the "law" for years without receiving certification of any kind.
Ensminger, who couldn't legally cut hair or manicure nails in Arkansas, remains licensed to kill.
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