Arkansas AG Demands Answers, Bodycams from ATF’s Fatal Raid

by Vern Evans
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin

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Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has serious questions for ATF officials about their botched March 19 SWAT team raid, which killed Little Rock Airport executive director, Bryan Malinowski, in his home. And if ATF has bodycam footage of the fatal raid, Griffin wants to see that, too.

“As someone who couldn’t be a bigger law enforcement supporter, when our government acts in a particular way that raises questions, we have an obligation to say something. My understanding, having looked at the ATF rules is that they generally require a bodycam when there’s a preplanned raid, right? Why? Well, because information from a camera helps fill the vacuum of conspiracy and all this other stuff. So, record it with a bodycam that’s required and then there’s policy that it shall be released as soon as possible,” Griffin said during an interview with local media Sunday.

The Attorney General acknowledged that journalists, attorneys and citizens have raised significant questions about the raid and ATF’s choice of tactics – questions the ATF has yet to answer.

“Look, this is bizarre that there’s just been silence. I understand there’s a state investigation going on with it, but there’s nothing about this footage that should stop it from being released,” he said.

ATF has yet to comment officially on the March 19 killing, other than to claim Malinowski fired first. But Malinowski’s family recently said in a statement that the 53-year-old airport executive likely did not know he was trading gunfire with federal agents. It is far more likely he believed he was defending himself and his wife from armed home invaders.

A yet-unidentified ATF agent shot Malinowski in the head with a carbine at least once. Malinowski lingered for two days before dying of his wounds.

A story published last week chronicled a host of less-lethal tactics ATF could have used during the raid – any one of which would have spared Malinowski’s life.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is investigating Malinowski’s killing. Once their investigation is complete, state prosecutors, not federal, will determine whether any ATF agent should face criminal charges.

This is not the first time ATF’s use of excessive force has drawn the ire of state law enforcement officials. Last year, after an ATF SWAT team raided one of his constituents, Oklahoma State Representative Justin “JJ” Humphrey demanded a grand jury and presented a probable cause affidavit to the Oklahoma Attorney General, which outlined the crimes and civil rights violations Humphrey believed ATF agents committed when they sent a 12-man SWAT team to the Tuskahoma, Oklahoma home of Russell Fincher, a federal firearm licensee who also teaches high school and serves as a Baptist pastor.

A Pro-Gun AG

Griffin was sworn in as Arkansas Attorney General on January 10, 2023, after serving as lieutenant governor and in Congress. He is a colonel in the Army Reserve, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

While in Congress, Griffin sponsored pro-gun legislation and was endorsed by pro-gun groups. During Sunday’s interview with local media, he announced he has joined a lawsuit led by other Republican attorneys general who are suing the Biden-Harris administration over their new rule to expand background check requirements for private gun sales.

“I think it’s a bad idea in this particular case, the way they’re doing it,” Griffin said. “This is not within the Biden Administration’s unilateral power to act. We’ve seen it with student loans, we’ve seen it with the gun laws. We’ve seen it with all these different environmental wrecks when they don’t get what they want through Congress, which I understand it’s not a friendly Congress to a lot of their views.”

Neither Griffin nor Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to calls or emails seeking their comments for this story.

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