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A Cop Attacked and Threatened a Man Who Did Nothing Wrong, Then Made His Life Hell for Complaining

Video footage shows that Adam Finley calmly followed a hotheaded cop's instructions. But he was charged anyway.

FinleyScreenshot via YoutubeA police officer in a small Arkansas town pulled a man over for driving suspiciously near some railroad tracks. The driver—Adam Finley—turned out to be a railroad employee just doing his job.

Here's what happened next, as evidenced by video footage of the encounter. Even though the cop, Matthew Mercado, had no reason whatsoever to escalate matters, he ordered Finley out of the car, became aggressive with him, shoved him against the car door, handcuffed him, swore at him, and threatened to use a taser on him.

Meanwhile, Finley kept remarkably calm. He didn't get angry, and he followed Mercado's confusing instructions as best he could.

After Mercado let him go free—again, because Finley had done absolutely nothing wrong—Finley went to the Walnut Ridge police station to speak with the chief and make a complaint. For this, Finley was punished: they decided to charge him with obstructing justice during the Mercado encounter. They made this decision only after Finley decided to object to his treatment. They also spoke to Finley's wife, suggesting to her that if she saw the video she would realize that her husband had committed a crime. This was an outright lie, but it apparently played on some suspicion Finley's wife had about him, and they later divorced.

A town's law enforcement apparatus conspired to ruin a man, all for being the victim of a bossy, incompetent cop.

Mercado is no longer on the force. But he appears to have resigned because he didn't get a pay raise he wanted, not because anyone decided to discipline him.

That's all according to The Washington Post's Radley Balko, who has just written about the case:

Finley wasn't shot, or choked to death, or found hanging in a jail cell. He didn't suffer any permanent or lasting physical injury. Mercado didn't even use racist or bigoted language. But Finley did everything he was supposed to. From the footage we can see and hear, he was polite, provided ID when it was asked of him and stepped out of the truck when ordered. Despite cooperating, he was treated poorly, detained and roughed up. When he then tried to file a complaint, he was harassed, and the chief of police attempted to turn his own wife against him—by citing video she hadn't seen and that ultimately vindicated her husband. Yet even after viewing that video, city officials proceeded to prosecute. And even after the video was released, city officials maligned Finley in the press and insisted that the residents of Walnut Ridge believe the assertions of authority figures over the video evidence that contradicted them.

The "lesson" Finley learned here is pretty clear. Power usually wins. You can be as cooperative as possible, but if a police officer wants to dish out some abuse, he can. And he'll probably get away with it. Try to hold him accountable if you'd like, but just know that doing so may come with a heavy price.

Having watched the video footage of the initial encounter, and footage of Finley and his wife meeting with the police chief, it is clear to me that the authorities abused their power. No reasonable person would conclude, after seeing Mercado's encounter with Finley, that there was any legitimate reason to rough him up or handcuff him. And yet the police let Finley and his wife believe the video would show that Finley had acted criminally.

As Balko points out, it could have gone worse for Finley. For many others unfortunate enough to come in conflict with hotheaded cops, it does. This incident is a reminder that not ever example of police abuse is a bloody or deadly affair.

Finley has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officials who wronged him. He is undoubtedly owed compensation for the indignities he suffered at the hands of some very petty authoritarians.

Photo Credit: Screenshot via Youtube

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  • Longtobefree||

    I make a living without working at all. (I did have to work 45 years to qualify)
    www.ssa.gov

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I'm working right now so you can make a living without working at all. go government. whoo.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So we're all about outrage today?

    Scroll down for outrage after outrage after outrage . . .

    I'm so outraged!

    Are you outraged, too?

    What could be more important than outrage?

    Being outraged is what libertarianism is all about. Well, that and butt sex, amirite?

    Now that the trade war is real and in full swing, nobody wants to write about it. When they do, I'm sure it'll be pitched to provoke outrage.

    I'm so outraged!

    grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  • Echo Chamber||

    Today is clearly Outrage On The Cops day.
    Tomorrow the Outrage Machine will be fed by something Donald said in Europe today.
    Trade war? That's like 4 outrages ago. Zzzzzz

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    That's outrageous!

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Nut-punch Wednesday?

    Or is that just Wednesday?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    That's just any day that ends in "y." It's all nut punches all the time.

  • juris imprudent||

    Still relying on Balko for the nuttiest nut punches.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Note to reason editors: can we get a post that's just nothing but cat videos? You're triggering Ken. He needs a palate cleanser. Thanks.

  • Citizen X||

    This one is more up Ken's alley.

  • Palatki||

    Well, Citizen X's video clip was totally irrelevant, but i'm strangely not outraged anymore. So, maybe although it was irrelevant, it was still meaningful, or something. i miss Balko.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    What's the proper response to a trade war?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Trade peace?

  • JBSparks||

    It's outrageous when this happens to you. The town ought to be spanked real good.

  • Praveen R.||

    What's your fucking point? Anything reason does that messes with right wingers favorite people and you guys get riled up about reason. Do you expect reason to run bash Obama bash Hillary stories all day? What I like about this site is there is some balance here.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You mean the communist traitor progressives get some cover? Tell me, when the FBI is hunting a serial killer, do you look for so,e balance favoring the serial killer too?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is this the plot of Atlas Shrugged?

  • The Last American Hero||

    Yes, but without the rough sex.

  • Citizen X||

    I dunno, looks like Finley got fucked pretty bad.

  • juris imprudent||

    There were handcuffs involved.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Go on....

  • Jerryskids||

    Damn! You guys been saving up these stories for a special occasion? Is today National Police Officer Appreciation Day or something? Or - wait for it - is this part of a forthcoming post on "Trump's America" and how things are getting progressively Hitlerish with the jack-booted thugs and whatnot?

  • perlchpr||

    This particular schtick is why I ended up at Reason in the first place, following Balko. So I don't think it's about "Trump", per se.

  • Blargrifth||

    Exactly. Reason has been doing police skepticism far before Black Lives Matter was ever a thing, and far before MSM turned police brutality into an issue of race rather than an issue of government's size and scope.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Black Lives Matter is a confusing mixture of genuine police abuse and utter bullshit. And, of course, the utter bullshit convinces the Cop lovers that it's ALL bullshit, which I suspect is the point. The politicians who back BLM desperately need the Black Vote to firmly believe that their only chance is to cling to the Democrat Party....because they might otherwise have to do something substantial, like improve inner city schools....which would involve pissing off their paymasters in the Teachers' Unions.

    I fully expect the whole mess to be resolved about as quickly as the Hundred Years' War.

  • Praveen R.||

    Most causes have some bullshit mixed in. In the case of BLM, only someone disingenous would try to dilute it by pointing out the utter bullshit part. Most of the BLM cases are legit. It is in the interest of all of us to support BLM because that woudl help change policing. And as you can see, when we come across a milder case of abuse like this one, they think they are in the right!!!!

    And the Democrats havent really done much to help BLM. They s[pent more time taking action pandering to illegal immigrants. Their words are simply that in case of BLM. No concrete action by many democrats. In fact, some of the police abuses have been in democratic party controlled cities.

  • Rossami||

    re: "only someone disingenous would try to dilute it by pointing out the utter bullshit part"

    No. Anyone who cares about the truth should point out the utter bullshit part. Anyone who cares about the credibility of the organization should point out the utter bullshit part. Anyone who actually wants to see abuses like this ended should point out the utter bullshit part.

    Any movement that insists that you trust the 'victim' blindly is inviting backlash. Look at the harm that false accusations and over-reactions have done to the feminist movement. The same thing is happening here. Only by being ruthlessly honest about what is and is not happening will you have the credibility to bring about actual change.

  • Praveen R.||

    You point out the utter bullshit when it exists on a case by case basis and there are cases where it is warranted. When you summarize it in a general point as a mix of both, you pretty much imply there is a significant amount of bullshit mixed in even if it is not a majority. I happen to thikn like most movements, there is bullshit, but not enough to make it a generalized summary of what the movement is partly about.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    So you're pretty much here as a mouthpiece apologist for progressive causes, right? That's your thing here?

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    This incident is a reminder that not ever example of police abuse is a bloody or deadly affair.

    Look at Robby over here sucking the cop's nutsack.

  • lafe.long||

    The glasses on his head are clearly a mask.

    He deserved what he got.

  • sarcasmic||

    What did he think was going to happen? Never complain directly to the cops. At best they'll run your life. At worst they'll kill you. Hire an attorney and go to the media. If they run with it then you might survive the ordeal. If they don't then suck it up. But never, never file a complaint unless you've got people watching your back.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    This. Unless you're very good friends with officer fuckstick's captain or the chief of police, and even then you'll probably get something along of the lines of "I'd love to help you, but procedures were followed... maybe if we had more money for training we could train our officers not to rough people up for no reason... etc." IOW, best case scenario is nothing else happens.

  • jcw||

    I don't know. I feel a settlement coming along.

  • sarcasmic||

    Now that he's got an attorney and the media is involved. If he had done that first things likely would have gone very differently.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    If he had done that first things likely would have gone very differently.

    Yeah, he would have been killed in a no-knock SWAT raid at 4:00am after an "anonymous informant" told them there were drugs in the house, which the brave HEROES would have "found."

  • Randall Fox||

    No way. This is fake news. Cops never target white guys. Even if they do it's deserved for being a white male. If he was non-white then it would be real news.

  • Idaho Bob||

    Walnut Ridge Police Department

    To protect and serve
    317 Northwest 4th
    Walnut Ridge, Ar. 72476

    Phone: 870-886-3568
    Fax: 870-886-5217

  • 10mm||

    Wow, Google streetview of their address doesn't disappoint my snotty Left coast view of the South:

    Turn the camera slightly to see a Napa, KFC, McDonalds and Sonic Burger, and 99% domestic vehicles.

  • ||

    QUALIFIED IMMUNITY, BITCHES!

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Unqualified in this case, as in most of them.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Race of everyone involved?

  • Rhywun||

    Refreshingly, not provided.

  • Seamus||

    Which means you can bet the house that it isn't white-on-black.

  • Praveen R.||

    I dont think BLM or its supporters ever implied that blacks are the only victims of police excesses. But they are the primary victim in the current state. Guys get raped. But many more women get raped. Which is why a lot of rape discussions center on the safety of women.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Apparently you're wrong. As it angers them if you assert that 'all lives matter".

  • BSL1||

    More than twice as many white people are shot by police than black people. What makes you think "blacks" are the primary victims? Is it because there are overwhelmingly more news stories about black people being shot by police?

  • Pro Libertate||

    No RCMP exposés? Why deny Canadian libertarians their pain?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Waiting for Nell's #MeToo moment.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I missed that episode of Dudley DoRight where Snidely Whiplash had Nell all tied up and convinced Dudley to help him spitroast her.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This was an outright lie, but it apparently played on some suspicion Finley's wife had about him, and they later divorced.

    Every story has a silver lining.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Yeah... I suspect that he is better off without her. Was she sleeping with the cop?

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    This was an outright lie

    We desperately need to make it illegal for the cops to lie. It's unbelievable that this has been enshrined by court precedent.

  • Happy Chandler||

    So the gist of the majority of comments is "Why are you writing about agents of the state denying freedom and retaliating using state power? Libertarianism is about owning the libs, and this doesn't own the libs. Why aren't you writing about three dudes at some college somewhere?"

  • Citizen X||

    What comments are you reading? Because they must have gotten deleted somehow after you posted this.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Give the new guy time to warm up.

  • Rhywun||

    I've seen enough. Into the greasonable filter it goes.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You have greasonable and you don't filter me?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    There was one comment that could maybe be interpreted as that. Doesn't "majority" mean "maybe one?"

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Somehow seems appropriate for statists to take their slogan from the army -- "A majority of one".

  • Citizen X||

    Sure, Ken writes some long-ass walls of text, but that's still not even close to "a majority."

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Majority of words, not majority of comments.

  • Juice||

    2

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Yeah, I guess there are 2 (always two, there are).

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    He did that the other day. Seems legitimately delusional.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    X, Chandler is a progtarded dimwit. Expect more of that sort of thing.

  • Juice||

    Typical Arkansas. When I lived there for a few years, I got harassed by the cops multiple times. Guess my hair was just a bit too long for their liking. I was so glad to finally get the fuck out of that shithole state.

  • Rhywun||

    Every time I hear that, I think "is it still the 1950's there or something?" I mean, it sounds made up.

  • sarcasmic||

    The average cop is a high school football hero who spent all four years beating up potheads, nerds, and anyone else who wasn't of a threat. Now he does it for a living. Think of the biggest asshole you knew in school. That's the guy most likely to have a badge.

  • Juice||

    "is it still the 1950's there or something?"

    When I was there in the late 90s all the cops seemed to be the "good old boy" type in every way. I don't know if it's like the 50s, but to me it was just the South, but to the hilt. Also, I'm sure it's worse in Jackson, MS. I've only passed through there a few times and I was pulled over and harassed/searched by the cops one of those times. "We don't like dope in our town, boy." I had no "dope".

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I am dope. Dope AF.

  • Don't look at me.||

    You in a heap o trouble, boy.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    All the football players at my school were also big partiers, or honor students. So the partners were pals with the stones so they had a ready connection to score some weed, and the honor student athletes were too busy, and generally too good natured to be bullies.

    But then, my school had an unusual lack of distinctive cliques, and the bigger parties reflected that.

    When everybody gets wasted together, it's just one big fucked up melting pot.

  • 10mm||

    You should have tucked it under your hat, and not acknowledged the drunk old lady as you left the bar.

  • georgeliberte||

    "This was an outright lie, but it apparently played on some suspicion Finley's wife had about him, and they later divorced." A marriage built on a strong solid foundation?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Actually, sounds typical.

  • juris imprudent||

    Boy, you want something to complain about? /chief ass-hat

  • IceTrey||

    This is nothing. Go to Youtube and search Clash with Bao and Mexican Padilla. Bao is a political prisoner who is in jail for exposing a judges corruption and his followers sending nasty messages to her. Padilla is being harassed by Leon Valley police for trespassing IN THE POLICE STATION! A bunch of first amendment auditors n Texas have been falsely charged to try and shut them up.

  • Qsl||

    And on to the bigger question of how you could get more accountability from police officers. Does it require a strong federal government to oversee corrupt local municipalities or is this a vote with your feet instance? Is this something that citizen juries could oversee or is something more required?

    I'm beginning to favor the idea of professional insurance for law enforcement and phasing out immunity altogether. In a sense Finley is going to end paying a portion or any restitution he receives, which is just odd.

    Also, why aren't libertarians advocating more broadly for specific reforms?

  • Citizen X||

    We are! All four of us!

  • Qsl||

    I didn't think the sockpuppeting was so bad here until I was answered by my own sockpuppet.

    Nevermind. You are all just figments of my imagination.

    I wish my imagination had more fashion sense.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    We are all sockpuppets of Mary Stack, we just don't actually realize it. If she ever wakes from her (semi) lucid dreaming we'll all cease to exist.

  • Citizen X||

    I just meant that most of y'all aren't REAL libertarians, like me and three other quiet white dudes.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    To be a REAL libertarian, you have to accuse everyone around you of not being a REAL libertarian. It's kind of meta, but it's the only reliable way to identify a REAL libertarian.

  • Longtobefree||

    What is the term for those of us who would be Libertarians if the party just had a realistic foreign policy?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hawkish Libertarians.

  • Bubba Jones||

    What could be more realistic that not fucking things up?

    Which war in the last 100 years has not been the direct result of our own meddling (and prior wars)?

    How about we stop just blowing shit up?

  • Qsl||

    I fantasize about librarians. Isn't that close enough?

  • Citizen X||

    I'll allow it.

  • Mr. Dyslexic||

    I have to concede, I am pretty quiet.

  • sarcasmic||

    Also, why aren't libertarians advocating more broadly for specific reforms?

    You obviously haven't been paying attention.

    Some specific reforms that I've seen discussed are abolishing the unions, ending qualified immunity, requiring them to individually insure themselves, taking settlements out of their pension fund, and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

    Thing is, there's no political will to do any of those things. Any attempt to do so would probably be a death sentence anyway.

  • Qsl||

    I did note than none of the above seems to be a portion of the LP platform, but apparently prostitution decriminalization is.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And ass sex. Don't forget ass sex.

  • Qsl||

    You give a little. You take a little.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    And weed. And Mexicans.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Just make sure the weed isn't Mexican. NW weed is what you want. Best on the planet overall.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Prostitutes are also regularly harassed by police, so it squarely fits with the overall goal of police reform.

  • LarryA||

    Actually, doing away with all forms of prohibition and eliminating victimless crimes would go a long way toward limiting police power.

  • Qsl||

    Except those approaches are applicable to the specific but not the general.

    Regardless of the law, having oversight and penalties that can't be passed off to the taxpayer benefits everyone.

    QED- eliminating victimless crimes would have done nothing in this instance.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    His question was a good one though. Because my idea of reform is evidently a bit different from yours. And both of ours are probably different from an anarcho-capitalist version of reform that might include privatization of security forces. We really don't have a hugely cohesive stance on this one. The democrats are no different really.

    Only the conservatives are unified on this issue. The police are never wrong, ever.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    If not insurance, perhaps,some form of surety bind. When I sold residential mortgages, my office had t maintain a surety bond and errors and omissions insurance. If a mortgage office (each branch, not just one for the parent corporation) has to have all that one would think a cop would too.

  • Juice||

    Does it require a strong federal government to oversee corrupt local municipalities or is this a vote with your feet instance?

    I say get the fuck out of Arkansas as soon as possible.

  • Citizen X||

    It worked for Hillary Clinton.

  • IceTrey||

    The cops are bad everywhere.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Also, why aren't libertarians advocating more broadly for specific reforms?

    Welcome to Hit & Run.

  • Duke of url||

    Sheesh, you guys act like you've never been contacted by a 'hero'™ before!
    I've never been treated that respectfully by a cop!

  • Don't look at me.||

    I have, always. But I'm always polite and helpful. And white. I hear that helps.

  • Truthteller1||

    The police are the next chip to fall. The public is becoming acutely aware that they are out of control and it's not just a few bad cops. It's a plague. The training has to be completely overhauled and bad cops must be held accountable. No more free rides.

  • IceTrey||

    It won't stop until the government is prohibited from initiating force.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Then how would they tax? They'd have to resort to inflationary currency to raise money, but crypto is fazing that out too.

  • IceTrey||

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    1. Trust fund is unsustainable
    2. Usage fees suffer from the free rider problem, but are probably the best option
    3. Donations work but they promote mob rule
    4. Citizen fees would inevitably result in unequal treatment under the law

  • Duke of url||

    People whom cannot control themselves, try to mitigate they're own failings by forcing their control on others.
    On some level, they rationalize and justify what they do as being 'made up for' by all the 'good ' they perceive themselves doing.
    From cops to congress these bastards flock to positions of authority over others.

    For example, they know they shouldn't molest children, but they feel better about it because of all the DUI arrests they've made.
    Or
    Yeah, I took a lot of bribes, but look at all the good I've done by banning stuff thru legislation.
    Or
    I didn't need to shoot that puppy, but that's the only way I can get an erection.

  • Reverend Draco||

    In any encounter with police, one should consider their life to be in danger - and take appropriate steps to end the threat.

    As long as you get to go home to your family at night. . . anything is justified.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Pigs gotta oink.

  • ||

    Too bad taxpayers will have to fork out the money if he (hopefully) wins.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Finley has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officials who wronged him. He is undoubtedly owed compensation for the indignities he suffered at the hands of some very petty authoritarians.

    Don't worry, everyone will get what's coming to them.

    Victim: Settlement money.
    Cops: Retroactive compensation for the emotional trauma of being subjected to public scrutiny, paid for by the above..
    Taxpayers: Increased taxes to pay for the first two things.

    Win win win!

  • Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing||

    He's not black, nobody cares.

  • Praveen R.||

    Washington Post cared enough to report on it. And the guy did live. Guess what, many blacks go through this same experience and that never gets hyped either. What you are seeing are the worse cases publicized. Lame attempt at equivalence.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Reason reports on blacks abused by the cops all the time.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Fuck the pigs and anyone who supports them.

  • retiredfire||

    Ex-LEO, here.
    This cop was WAAAAAAY out of line.
    If he had had any training, his training officers needed to be re-trained.
    He's the one, who should have been charged with false imprisonment, since he had no probable cause to detain, let alone handcuff, an identified railroad employee, on railroad property, who explained that he was doing his job.
    He should have not let the driver be in a position to "get up on him" by being so close that any movement by the driver brought him into close proximity and he compounded that by trying to claim the driver assaulted him.
    At the very least, some serious (re?) training and an apology to the driver.
    I'm surprised the railroad didn't bring a complaint, as well as the driver, and the fact that the department backed him, to the extent that they did, was insult on top of injury.
    This kind of police activity brings disrepute on the good officers out there, and there are plenty of them.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    As former law enforcement, what do you think of requiring individual officers to carry a surety bond, and/or some kind of errors and omissions insurance? The idea would be to defray the cost of legal settlements against the comminity, and also make bad cops ultimately uninsurable so they don't keep changing jobs after multiple incidents.

  • swampwiz||

    YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!

  • BenjaminTheDonkey||

    He should thank the cops for helping him lose his wife.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    You want the Killdozer 2.0 or Dallas/Baton Rouge 2.0? This is how you get them. Officer McFuckChop should be making license plates in some nice max security shithole or pounding big rocks into little rocks...

  • Hank Phillips||

    Good reporting, Robby. It's a pity there isn't a way to rendition these brutes and hold them accountable the way they did at Nuremberg.

  • GaryA||

    Hey, he was black, wasn't he? I can't think of a worse crime in America than driving while black, can you?

    The cop deserves a medal!

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