By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
(Nine days after Reverend Tillman first voiced his concern over the shooting at Vinnie's, an officer with the Scottsdale Police Department accidentally shot himself in the leg with a Glock as he holstered the gun at the department's firing range.)
Manion's assurance that there is nothing questionable about the King shooting in the nightclub parking lot stems, in part, from Chief Ortega's refusal to release all the relevant data.
Yes, the initial reports filed by Officer Arnie Stallman and Sergeant Larry Lemons contend that the victim, King, tried to run them over.
But transcripts obtained by New Times from Ortega's own Internal Affairs Bureau investigation cast doubt over the official explanation of the shooting. These confidential records show that:
The Two Officers Gave Conflicting Testimony
Sergeant Lemons told investigators from the police department's Internal Affairs Bureau that he had been worried about being pinned against a wall. Investigator: "You said before that you were concerned about the wall and possibly crushing you or hitting you or something about the wall. What wall are you talking about?"
Lemons: "The garbage bin."
The night of the shooting, Officer Stallman gave a different version of what happened.
Stallman: " . . . that retaining wall . . . I thought he was gonna either crush Larry or both of us up against that wall . . . or both of us could get smashed against the retaining wall . . . "
The garbage bin and the retaining wall are two different structures located well apart from each other. The garbage bin is on the north side of the parking lot, while the retaining wall is on the east.
This testimony is one of several areas where the officers contradict each other.
Sergeant Lemons Changed His Story
The night of the shooting, Sergeant Lemons said he reached into the driver's window of King's vehicle to turn the ignition off.
"As I reached inside, something happened, my jacket caught on something. I had no idea what it caught on. It caught on my jacket . . . I have no--still don't know what it caught on . . . I was hooked on the steering wheel, ah, the horn or whether . . . I--I don't know what I was hooked on. Something got a hold of me."
Two days later, Sergeant Lemons was interviewed a second time by Detective Bill Butler and Sergeant Bruce Pitzer from the Internal Affairs Bureau.
After coaxing by Detective Butler, Sergeant Lemons changed his testimony from saying that his sleeve caught on the interior of the truck to claiming that the suspect King actually grabbed and held onto the officer's arm, lending credence to the theory that King was hostile and attempting to injure the cops.
Lemons: "You know, I just thought of something. I wonder if my arm caught on the, caught on the [inaudible]."
Lemons: "The door lock."
Butler: "The door-lock post?"
Lemons: "Or whether he was holding me, I don't know."
Butler: "That wouldn't have been strong enough to hold your jacket, not like that."
Lemons: "No, no, I don't think so. Whatever had a hold of me was pretty firm, it was firm."
Butler: "He probably had a hold of your sleeve this way."
Sergeant Lemons would subsequently claim that suspect King grabbed his hand and "very forcefully yanked" it.
When Detective Butler appeared in front of the grand jury, he did not indicate that Sergeant Lemons' sleeve caught on something inside the truck, as Lemons had stated the night of the shooting. Instead, Butler told the grand jury, "The driver of the vehicle, according to Sergeant Lemons, grabbed his hand with his right hand [and] pulled his hand off the ignition back onto his chest area."
The Physical Evidence Problem
The location of the trail of glass from the truck window shattered by Officer Stallman's bullet conflicts with the police officer's claim about where he fired his weapon.
The Maps Do Not Match
Investigators interviewed the two police officers separately. Following this, diagrams of the events that night were drawn based upon directions given by the two officers. The two diagrams contradict each other.
There Is an Errant Shell Casing
The spent shell casing wasn't anywhere near where it should have been located if the shooting had occurred where Officer Stallman said he fired his weapon. Though Phoenix police forensic chemist Ray Gieszl test-fired Stallman's weapon 34 times, he never was able to get the gun to respond in a manner that would explain the location of the spent shell casing found at the scene after the King shooting.
These details are not conclusive, but they do raise serious doubts. It is not the open-and-shut case portrayed in the city's report. Contradictions about the location of the shooting are important, because Stallman said he fired for fear he and his partner would be driven into a retaining wall. If they were nowhere near that barricade--in other words, in no apparent danger--then the possibility of an accidental discharge gains credibility.
Manion never saw the files from the department's own investigation.
"I discussed the case with Ortega and [Harold] Hurtt [assistant police chief] and looked at the DRs [departmental reports]. I have not seen the detailed reports from Internal Affairs . . . I did not get into that level of detail, partly because the matter is in court."