An Arkansas police officer was arrested on Tuesday after he admitted to colleagues that his report of being shot by a Hispanic man during a traffic stop, which launched a statewide manhunt, was actually an incident he fabricated.
50-year-old Sgt. David Houser, formerly with the England police department in Lonoke County, initially claimed that he was shot during a traffic stop around 2 a.m. on Oct. 24.
KATV in Little Rock reported that Houser encountered an early 2000’s Tahoe or Yukon, which “slowed to a stop, then the driver suddenly accelerated, traveling another 100 yards, before stopping in the middle of the highway.”
Houser claimed that when he approached the vehicle, “the driver stuck a gun out of the driver’s window and pointed it directly at him,” and while he tried to shove the gun away from him, the suspect fired and the round struck “across his chest, but it did not penetrate his bulletproof vest.”
Houser’s description of a Hispanic male suspect, possibly in his 30s, armed with a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, who “should be considered extremely dangerous,” launched a statewide manhunt.
However, England Police Chief Nathan Cook said that Houser admitted to investigators on Monday that the traffic stop and the shooting never actually happened.
“The more we investigated, the more it became clear that the details of his story were inconsistent,” Cook said. “We went after it as if we were going after someone who had just tried to kill a police officer.”
Cook explained that after a 10-day investigation, when it was “apparent that some things just didn’t add up,” Houser eventually admitted to fabricating the traffic stop, the shooting, and the crime scene and he revealed that the “gunshot wound to his uniform and his vest area was self-inflicted.”
Cook said that the revelation came as a shock, because Houser was a “very well-respected, very well-liked police officer.”
“Once he admitted to falsifying and fabricating this incident, I terminated him on the spot,” Cook said.
Following NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ revelation that he had lied about being on a helicopter that was shot down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, his credibility as a journalist has been called into question, and there is now speculation regarding his reporting during Hurricane Katrina.
The New Orleans Advocate reported that once Williams admitted to lying about his Iraq story, there was an “online feeding frenzy,” which turned the focus to his coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, during an interview with Michael Eisner, Williams discussed the time he spent on the ground, covering Hurricane Katrina. He claimed that he had watched a man “float by face down” from his hotel room window in the French Quarter:
“When you look out of your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country.”
However, the New Orleans Advocate noted that the French Quarter is the “original high ground of New Orleans,” and “was not impacted by the floodwaters that overwhelmed the vast majority of the city.”
During a 2014 interview with Tom Brokaw, Williams claimed that while he was covering Hurricane Katrina, he “accidentally ingested some of the floodwater” and “became very sick with dysentery.”
Dr. Brobson Lutz, a former city health director who was on the street manning an EMS trailer in the French Quarter, told the New Orleans Advocate that the area was “never wet” and that as for dysentery, he didn’t recall a “single, solitary case of gastroenteritis during Katrina or in the whole month afterward.”
While Williams has yet to comment on the accusations related to Hurricane Katrina, he did issue a public apology on Wednesday for claiming he was on a helicopter that was shot down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In his apology, William claimed that while he wasn’t on the Chinook that was hit, he was on one of the helicopters in the same formation. However, crewmembers on board the helicopter that was grounded by RPG fire claim Williams arrived at the scene an hour after the helicopter made its emergency landing, and then left shortly after, according to a report from Stars and Stripes.
In his 2003 report of the incident, Williams said, “On the ground we learned the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky” by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), which “punched cleanly through the skin of the ship,” but did not explode.
In 2008, Williams retold the story in a blog post, stating once again that the Chinook helicopter flying in front of his “took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”
However, Williams’ story changed in 2013 when he gave an account of the incident on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman. “Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire, including the one I was in,” Williams said.
Although Williams’ 2013 version of the story was false, he did not correct it, and went on to repeat the same lie during a broadcast of NBC Nightly News on Friday, claiming that the helicopter he was flying in was “forced down after being hit by an RPG.”
On Saturday, Lance Reynolds, one of the soldiers on board the Chinook helicopter that was hit, addressed Williams in a Facebook comment, saying that while he didn’t remember Williams being on the helicopter, he did remember the NBC team leaving the scene and flying to Kuwait to report their “war story” for the Nightly News, all while the crew from the grounded flight was “stuck in Iraq trying to repair the aircraft.”
Williams replied to the comment, saying that Reynolds, along with several others who had called Williams out on the inaccurate report, were right, and that he “felt terrible about making this mistake.” Williams wrote that he “was in fact on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.”
On Wednesday, Williams issued a public apology on the Nightly News, claiming that he had made a mistake.
“I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago and it did not take long to hear from some of the brave men and women in the air crew who were also in that desert,” said Williams. “I want to apologize, I said I wasn’t traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in the following aircraft. We all landed after the ground fire.”
While Williams claimed that he was riding in the helicopter “following” the Chinook that was hit by RPG fire, he made it sound as if his helicopter landed shortly after.
In contrast, those who were actually on board the 159th Aviation Regiment’s Chinook that was hit told Stars and Stripes that Williams was “nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire.” Instead, the crewmembers claimed Williams “arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing.”
Stars and Stripes reported that Williams and his NBC news team only stayed on the scene for “about 10 minutes,” before they left “to see the Army armored units that had been guarding the nearby Forward Operating Base Rams.”
On Thursday, Ben Swann addressed the story on RT America’s newscast, and he pointed out that while the crew members’ stories have not been verified, if they do turn out to be true, it will mean that not only was Williams’ story untrue, “the 2003 story that aired on NBC News is untrue as well.”
Swann was joined by RT Producer Tyrel Ventura to discuss the potential impact of the crewmembers’ claims being true and NBC News providing a false report. Watch the full video below:
On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted that his story about being on board a helicopter that was hit by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was false.
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams brought up the original story on Friday, in a video it posted on Facebook. In this video, Williams claimed that in 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, a helicopter he was traveling in was shot down by an RPG.
Williams said that he and his NBC team were “rescued, surrounded and kept alive” by an armored, mechanized platoon from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry. One of the men who Williams attributed with protecting his safety, retired Command Sgt. Major Tim Terpak, was reunited with Williams during a New York Rangers hockey game. Their reunion was featured in the video.
The post received nearly 75,000 likes, over 45,000 shares, and over 2,500 comments. While many of the comments said things such as “made me cry,” and “class act Brian Williams,” there was one particular comment that received a response from Williams.
On Saturday, the flight engineer, Lance Reynolds, left a comment on the video, saying that while he didn’t remember Williams being on the aircraft, he did remember the NBC team leaving the scene and flying to Kuwait to report their “war story” for the Nightly News, all while the crew from the grounded flight was “stuck in Iraq trying to repair the aircraft” and pulling their own Security:
Williams replied to Reynolds’ comment on Wednesday, admitting that he was actually “on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp,” and calling the false report a mistake:
Reynolds told Stars and Stripes that he spoke up in the comments section, in order to preserve his account of the event.
“It was something personal for us that was kind of life-changing for me. I know how lucky I was to survive it,” said Reynolds. “It felt like a personal experience that someone else wanted to participate in and didn’t deserve to participate in.”
After originally reporting the story in 2003, Williams mentioned it again in 2008, when he wrote a blog post for NBC News:
“We came under fire by what appeared to be Iraqi farmers with RPG’s and AK-47’s,” wrote Williams. “The Chinook helicopter flying in front of ours (from the 101st Airborne) took an RPG to the rear rotor, as all four of our low-flying Chinooks took fire.”
Williams then referenced the story in 2013, during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. This time, while he changed his story by stating that only two of the four helicopters were hit by ground fire, he reiterated that he was aboard one of the helicopters that was hit: