Gypsies, Tramps, and Thugs
"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 Ensminger'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 police assistance. 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 Ensminger 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.
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."
September 10, 2010
Copyright © 2010 William Norman Grigg