The sheriff stressed that Deputy D.J. Harlan had done nothing wrong during the chase and that the reassignment was not a disciplinary action.
Rather, he said, the move was an attempt to protect Harlan and, by extension, himself from politically motivated attacks.
On the night of the wreck, Harlan was one of two sheriff's officers assisting the Berryville Police Department in their pursuit of a stolen car piloted by a 13-year-old runaway boy.
That high-speed chase ended about one mile east of Green Forest -- when the boy wrecked after losing a tire to a police spike strip, and Harlan rear-ended an unmarked sheriff's vehicle driven by Investigator Charles Dale.
State Police reports show that the impact knocked Dale's vehicle into a ditch. It landed on its roof, with Dale still inside.
On Friday, Grudek said the collision had resulted when Harlan tried to pass Dale. The two had arranged to do so, the sheriff said, because the agency has a policy against an unmarked vehicle being in the lead of a police chase.
"It's a policy that an unmarked vehicle cannot be the lead vehicle," he said, "because the suspect can say, 'Hey, I'm running because I didn't know you were the cops.'"
The two had arranged for Harlan to pass Dale. However, just as Harlan was preparing to do so, the suspect crossed the double yellow line and wrecked his car on the north side of the highway, rolling it several times.
Dale followed the car, wanting to arrest the suspect before he could flee.
However, as he crossed into the oncoming lane, Harlan was also crossing into the oncoming lane, seeking to pass him.
It was then that the two collided.
"Looking at the tape, he did not violate any policy," Grudek said. "He was not reckless. He was not careless."
He said he was sure the police report would show Harlan was at fault because "in Arkansas, if you rear end somebody, its your fault." However, he said Harlan had not violated any procedures or been guilty of recklessness.
"It's just one of those things about being involved in high-speed chases," he said.
On Friday, Grudek denied rumors that Deputy Joel Hand had been involved in the wreck. The sheriff said he had received calls from reporters asking if Hand was being fired for his involvement in the crash.
Grudek said Hand had not even been on duty at the time.
However, the rumor had touched a nerve with the sheriff.
Hand is currently the defendant in a civil suit alleging civil rights abuses by the deputy, and he has been the subject of other, similar allegation in years past. Grudek has said he felt the plaintiff in that case had political motivations.
"What concerned me was that ever since the Blue John incident, a lot of people think that Hand is a cowboy, that he's a renegade cop and so forth. He's being bombarded all the time."
"I didn't want the same thing to happen to D.J. (Harlan), where he's gonna become a marked man because he has these wrecks. ... Plus, at the same time, we know it's an election time, so there's gonna be people who might want to, by making him look bad, make me look bad, and I don't want him to be suffering for that."
"I thought it would be kind of a nice time out for him, put him back there for a couple of months, and then bring him back as a patrol deputy."
He said Harlan was heartbroken to be separated from his dog, to whom he had been assigned for about one year.
"What we're gonna try to do is still let him participate in the drug awareness classes and then probably by the first of the year bring him back."