Arrest motivates man to work for sheriff's opponent
BERRYVILLE -- Eighty-one-year-old Edward "Blue John" Chevallier of Berryville was arrested Aug. 16 on multiple charges after county deputies responded to a complaint phoned in by one of his tenants.
Blue John, who manages 10 rental properties at his mobile home park, located along U.S. Hwy. 62 west of the Kings River Bridge, admits he had an encounter with a tenant but questions the actions that followed when lawmen arrived.
Also in question is the legality of that arrest, according to "Rules of Criminal Procedure," which outlines provisions for warrantless arrests.
He was charged with criminal trespass, harassment, disorderly conduct and refusal to submit to arrest.
Blue John claims he was pepper-sprayed and thrown to the ground, and one deputy stood with a foot on his head while the other handcuffed him.
He says the action took place after he was told he was being arrested, and he asked permission to put his dog in a pen before they handcuffed him and took him away.
The deputies have a different story, claiming Chevallier became agitated and raised his arm while holding scissors and did not comply with a deputy's command to put the scissors down.
"They sprayed me with that damn pepper spray, threw me on the ground, stood on top of my head, handcuffed and took me to jail," he claims.
Blue John said the arrest took place about 8 p.m. Monday night, Aug. 16, out at his garden spot on his property after he had an encounter with a tenant who had called the law once before. At that time, he was verbally told to stay away from the tenant.
The deputy's report says the complaining tenant phoned this time to say Blue John had taunted him and cussed him in the past trying to get him to fight and on this day Blue John was trying to get him to fight by calling him names.
Blue John claims he was sitting in a chair holding a pair of scissors he was using to cut tomato string when Corporal Joel Hand and Deputy Billy Floyd showed up Monday night.
He said Hand accused him of talking to the tenant after he had been told to stay away.
Blue John recalls challenging Hand by saying there was no court order in place to force him to stay away -- and Hand's response was to put him under arrest.
Blue John says he sustained injuries during his arrest, specifically when he was taken to the ground, and he had those injuries photographed the following day.
He said his jail time was minimal because a neighbor called former county sheriff Chuck Medford, a close friend, who had him released by 11 p.m.
Asked if he had ever been in trouble with the law before, Blue John responded, "as a youngster in Louisiana where I was a bad ass, but never here."
Blue John says he's lived in Arkansas since 1972, at his current home since 1983. He said Kevin Barrows did the dirt work at that time to prepare the land for a mobile home park. "It was a big job for him, one of his first," Blue John said of Barrows, who now operates a substantial enterprise.
Blue John said he has been to the county jail once before, with Medford who provided him with a private tour of the facility before it opened.
As for his future, Blue John grinned.
"This is the best thing to happen to me," he said. "I was bored. Now, I'm politically motivated. I have work every day to promote the sheriff's opponent in the upcoming election."
Blue John said he's having 1,000 copies of his arrest injury photos printed up to distribute at the county fair.
And, he now drives his pickup around town sporting a large sign promoting John Bailey for Sheriff, and parks it prominently at the Carroll County Senior Activity Center.
There, he said, he shares his arrest story with other seniors, and tells them he can't contribute $1,000 to the center again this year because his money has to go to legal fees instead.
He's retained the legal services of Fayetteville Attorney W.H. Taylor, Blue John said, who will reschedule his first court appearance date.
The Oct. 8 court date conflicts with a trip he has planned. Blue John said he's already put his money down and is looking forward to the trip.
It's an 11-day sightseeing bus trip, he said, that will take him from Branson to Maine, by way of Washington, D.C., New York City, and Niagara Falls.
"I've never been on a bus before," he grinned.