By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"She said, `I'll tell you what; if you give me that sheet, I'll make some copies.'
"This really irritated them. Darlene had called this other man [Jerry] over. Maybe you can help. She read it to him 'cause he can't read.
"She gave the paper back and basically said there's nothing more we can do for you. They turned around, turned their backs and came towards the customers. When they turned their backs, it was like a bomb exploded.
"I was scared. I thought someone was being kidnaped or going to be killed . . . The skinny guy grabbed her by the hair, shoved her into the fence. He broke his glasses, she fell to her knees and he fell forward into the fence.
"Darlene and Jerry is little people. It was just unreal.
"All I could think of was they were going to kill them. She's screaming at the top of her lungs, `Call the police. Call the police.'
"These men shouted, `Don't you walk away' or `Don't you turn your back' or something to that effect. `Don't you leave.'
"They were offended."
"I left and called 911 from Smitty's."
By the time the police arrived, two men who owned nearby businesses had joined the crowd.
Don Malody owned a sign shop across the street. He saw Marshal Dains grab the roll of film from Pete Span's shirt pocket and crush it with his boot.
"The canister was bent and one end was popped off. It was smashed," said Malody.
Span's roll of film had captured the opening moments of the fight.
Malody was more alarmed by what happened to the mother, Virginia.
"I'd have tried to kill them if it had been my mother. All she was doing when I walked across the street was standing, watching and occasionally taking a picture."
When Dains demanded that Virginia give up her camera and film, she refused.
"He grabbed hold of her arm, on the biceps. The camera strap was wound around her wrist. She never swung at them. Her only movement was to protect the camera. It was like a tug of war. As it progressed, it got more bizarre. They were grabbing at her from both sides. The Phoenix cop also grabbed her. One time, she collapsed. She's an old woman, not in the best of health. They very definitely manhandled her, twisted her arm behind her back, grabbed her around the neck with a choke hold. It wasn't called for. There was no reason to do it. Everything was under control. They'd already subdued Jerry and Darlene. There were half a dozen people standing around them. She was under a doctor's care and very ill. They could have handled the situation and calmed things down and then got the camera."
Tom Owens' family has run a machine shop near the Span property since the late Forties. Although he isn't friends with them, he says the Spans are honest, aboveboard, never try to drive you to your knees over business.
"They're meek as lambs, really. You can't imagine Jerry jumping police officers."
Owens came on the scene after both marshals had Jerry and Darlene in choke holds.
"As Virginia would take pictures, the Polaroids would flip onto the ground. The tall one would pick them up, dragging Darlene with him. The mother was in kind of a daze."
Owens saw Marshal Dains stomp Pete's initial film canister.
"I saw the canister of film on the ground but the end was broken off."
What Owens saw next shocked him.
"The fact that these marshals could have been that brutal to such a feeble, defenseless woman. She was not being abusive. She never got close enough to touch anyone. She's elderly, in her seventies with no teeth. She kind of screeches when she talks. If you ever talked to someone with no false teeth, you'd know. She was crying, `Those are my children, don't hurt my children.' She's feeble as hell to begin with. They did not need to maul her. Instead, one marshal tried to jerk her arm out of its socket trying to get the camera. The fat one held her while Dains tried to rip the camera out of her arms."
At first Grotewold held up his hand with a puncture wound, yelling that Virginia should be arrested because she'd bitten him. Virginia pointed out that she had no teeth.
The Spans believe Grotewold's hand was bitten by their father's dog. In his arrest report, Grotewold said he was bitten by Jerry Span.
On Saturday, March 3, 1990, twelve jurors found Jerry and Darlene Span guilty of assaulting U.S. marshals and resisting arrest.
Incredibly, five jurors believed it was the marshals who attacked the Spans, but because of Judge Robert Broomfield's instructions to the jury, they felt they had no choice but to convict.
From the bench, Broomfield told the jurors: "Federal officers engaged in good faith and colorable performance of their duties may not be forcibly resisted even if the resister turns out to be correct, that the resisted action should not, in fact, have been taken. The statute requires him to submit peaceably and seek legal redress thereafter."