Candidate in custody: Kennedy arrested on felony charges

Thursday, April 28, 2022
Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy, a candidate for Carroll County sheriff, was arrested Monday morning and is being held in the county jail, the sheriff’s office confirmed.

Few details were available by Tuesday morning. The intake log from the Carroll County Detention Center in Berryville showed that Kennedy, 38, was booked into the jail on felony charges of terroristic threatening and second-degree battery as well as two misdemeanor counts of assault on a family or household member. The intake log also shows a charge of residential burglary, which is a felony.

Kennedy was expected to have an initial judicial appearance Tuesday or Wednesday.

Kennedy, who bills himself as the “People’s Sheriff,” spoke at a sparsely attended rally on Saturday in Little Rock where he cursed repeatedly and threatened violence toward Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Speaking on the steps of the state Capitol and wearing what appeared to be a bulletproof vest, Kennedy said: “I’m gonna kick Leslie Rutledge in the n**s here in just a second.”

Kennedy reportedly was later removed from the capitol grounds by police.

At 12:39 a.m. Sunday, Kennedy posted a live video on Facebook after he was apparently pulled over by Carroll County reserve deputy Daniel Mehn for allegedly driving left of center.

“That’s a bulls**t law,” Kennedy says in the video, later showing a handgun on the center console of his vehicle.“… That left of center is so bulls**t. I drive left of center all the damn time, because I dance in my truck. I have a good time.”

Kennedy also refers to Mehn as a “piece of s**t.”

In the video, Mehn asks Kennedy to exit his vehicle, advising him that he doesn’t have any warrants.

“I know I ain’t got no warrants,” Kennedy replies. “I don’t break the f*****g law.”

Mehn tells Kennedy that he wants to check his eyes and asks Kennedy if that is OK.

Less than a minute later, Kennedy returns to his vehicle, telling Mehn: “You’ll be fired. Bet that. You’ll be fired, a*****e.”

Kennedy then says Mehn hit him in the eye with a flashlight.

The live video of the traffic stop was just one of 11 total videos that Kennedy posted on Facebook on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday morning, a video posted to Instagram showed Kennedy speaking into a camera while he appeared to be driving.

“Man, I don’t know what’s going on, but Jim Ross is strapped up,” Kennedy says, referring to the incumbent Carroll County sheriff. “Vest, tactical, AR-15, handgun. … Buddy, that Berryville officer should climb out of that car and kick you in the d*** and arrest you. I really don’t want to hurt state police, but it’s about to come, brother. Y’all better bring on the fury. … All I’m doing is driving around, listening to music, having some fun. If y’all don’t get over here, I am going to hurt state police, too.”

By 1:30 p.m. Monday, the video was no longer posted on Instagram.

Monday’s events were just the latest in Kennedy’s controversial campaign for sheriff.

A native of Texas, Kennedy worked as a detention officer for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office for a little more than three months, from Feb. 26 to May 29, 2018, before being fired for “failure to follow policy and procedure and insubordination.”

In a Jan. 22, 2019, letter to the sheriff’s office, the Arkansas State Police’s licensing section for private investigators and security officers informed Ross that Kennedy had applied to become a commissioned security officer or a commissioned school security officer.

Ross responded in a Jan. 31, 2019, letter to the state police.

“I have serious concerns and reservations regarding the possibility of Mr. Kennedy becoming a commissioned officer of any kind,” Ross writes.

Ross notes that Kennedy was fired from the sheriff’s office for violating the chain of command and for insubordination.

“Prior to his terminating offenses, Mr. Kennedy was also counseled for abandoning his shift & fellow officers,” Ross writes. “Subsequently, his abandonment of the shift & officers directly followed a verbal altercation with his commanding officer (Sgt. Robert Riggs). It was becoming apparent to our agency, Mr. Kennedy’s explosive outbursts suggested aggressive tendencies that could not be overcome through our attempts to counsel him.”

On his application for employment at the sheriff’s office, dated Feb. 8, 2018, Kennedy writes that he was charged with “false statement” in 2002 and “obstruction of roadway” in “2006 or 2007.” Kennedy also lists four previous employers, none of which are involved in law enforcement.

Texas court records show that Kennedy was arrested by Alvin, Texas, police on July 7, 2003, and charged with “false report to police officer.” He pleaded guilty and was convicted of a Class B misdemeanor on Aug. 26, 2004, and ordered to pay a $500 fine and $208 in court costs. A police report on that incident was not readily available.

Kennedy was arrested by police in Friendswood, Texas, on April 1, 2008, and originally was charged with driving while intoxicated. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstructing a highway passageway. He was convicted on Aug. 8, 2008, and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $228 in court costs.

Court records say a Friendswood police officer found Kennedy asleep behind the wheel of his truck at an intersection and he failed field sobriety tests. Kennedy then was unable to provide a specimen for a portable breath test, filling his cheeks with air before exhaling through his nose and spitting into the mouthpiece, according to court records. After five failed attempts, the arresting officer told Kennedy his failure to provide a specimen would be treated as a refusal.

Kennedy’s driver’s license was suspended after the arrest and he unsuccessfully appealed the suspension by arguing that he did not refuse the breath test. The suspension was upheld first by an administrative law judge, then by a county court and finally by a district court of appeals in Texas.

During his campaign for sheriff, Kennedy has said multiple times that he worked as an “undercover deputy,” “commissioned deputy” and “sworn deputy” for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Maj. Jerry Williams, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office, said Monday that those statements were inaccurate.

“He was not a sworn ‘Deputy Sheriff,’ or ‘undercover’ as such,” Williams said by email. “He passed the Jail Standards class, and I believe he passed the ‘Reserve class,’ but was never commission(ed) as a Deputy.

“If he was, I’m not aware of it, his file doesn’t reflect it, and the State has no record of such.

“My recollection place(s) him in the jail as a detention officer, and talks about a possible transport officer (because he had passed the Reserve training).”

A spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement said Kennedy was never certified as a law enforcement officer in that state.

Kennedy was asked for clarification regarding his comments about Rutledge, driving left of center and his law enforcement experience via text and Facebook messenger on Monday morning, before his arrest. He did not respond.

Kennedy’s campaign page was no longer visible on Facebook by Monday afternoon.

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  • Holy ****, Robert.

    -- Posted by jpmorganfreeman on Thu, Apr 28, 2022, at 5:35 PM
  • Usually news stories like this start with the words “A Florida man…”. Nice to see Arkansas taking a bit of the fame and glory!

    -- Posted by jetman on Fri, Apr 29, 2022, at 8:50 AM
  • So much drama with this family. See season 13 episode 2 (Dana) of Intervention.

    -- Posted by rockpilefarmer on Fri, Apr 29, 2022, at 6:26 PM
  • So much drama with this family. See season 13 episode 2 (Dana) of Intervention.

    -- Posted by rockpilefarmer on Sat, Apr 30, 2022, at 1:53 AM
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