ONE BRUTAL NIGHT IN WEST PHOENIX

WHEN IT WAS OVER, PHOENIX COP JOE PEREZ ADMITTED HE'D DONE WRONG. LOOK WHERE IT GOT HIM.

IA investigators grilled Boyd about why her original memo had mentioned only Perez's use of excessive force. Like Mauricio Rodriquez, Boyd explained she simply had followed Sergeant Hardin's cue.

[Hardin] asked me specifically about Perez kicking someone," Boyd said. ÔHe asked me if I had seen that and I said I had. `That is what you need to put in your memo.' If I had known this was gonna be some big deal, maybe I would have thought to detail everything that had happened out there."

Boyd added she had advised Perez not to push matters with his supervisors. I told Joe, `A lot of times you have to take your medicine and get it over with. History tells you if you go to PLEA or try to seek assistance, you'll probably be put on a blacklist.' It's the truth. Let's be honest."

One of the investigators replied: I think Perez was honest in his memo and I think he's honest in his presentation to us."

But honesty didn't help Perez save his job. By this timeÏthe spring of 1991-the stress had all but consumed him. In early May, Perez met for the fourth and final time with Phoenix police psychologist Stephen Carson.

Carson wrote after the session, Officer Perez is psychologically incapable of working in any capacity as a police officer at this time." Carson also said Perez was extremely paranoid, delusional, emotionally disturbed and his judgment impaired."

The Phoenix Police Department quickly placed Perez on administrative leave with pay. He remained in limbo for months, as the investigations against him continued.

I still thought I might get suspended for a month or something," he says. With counseling, I thought they'd give me another chance. I was dreaming."

Perez didn't consider that he might be facing felony charges. But late last July, the Phoenix police forwarded the Perez criminal investigation to the County Attorney's Office.

Bill Moore, a veteran deputy county attorney who is prosecuting Perez, says his office evaluated the potential case as it would any other.

We weren't on a witch hunt here because of Rodney King or anything of the sort," says Moore, a supervisor. We take cases as they come, and we take no pleasure in prosecuting cops or anyone else. We looked at the facts and decided it was proper to take it to a grand jury."

Moore says he doesn't know why none of the other 64 Phoenix cops disciplined for using excessive force since 1985 was indicted. The City of Phoenix paid $118,000 from 1985 to 1991 to 17 victims of police brutality. Again, however, no one at the County Attorney's Office can explain why none of those cases led to indictments.

Last September 4, prosecutor Moore asked a county grand jury to indict Officer Joe Perez for assaulting Mauricio Rodriquez. Phoenix police detective Don Newcomer was the sole witness against Perez.

Newcomer described how Perez had kicked and punched an unresisting Rodriquez. He then went on to detail Rodriquez's bloody nose, several abrasions and a broken wrist." Newcomer did not offer that the wrist hadn't been broken by Joe Perez.

The grand jury indicted Perez on one count of aggravated assault, a felony that may call for a sentence ranging from probation to almost two years in prison.

A month later, last October 17, Perez appeared before the Disciplinary Review Board, which recommended Perez's termination. Chief Dennis Garrett then signed a paper that ended Perez's career with the Phoenix Police Department.

JOE PEREZ SOON decided to appeal his firing to the city's Civil Service Board. I wanted to think I had a chance," he says, because of my good record and all the other stuff involved in the case."

Perez knew he would have a better shot at success if the police union-PLEA-supplied him with its expert labor-law attorney, Mike Napier. But a PLEA committee voted against doing that, in part because of Perez's previous troubles with PLEA representative Fran Anatra.

Of all the twists in this sad case, Joe Perez lists his rejection by PLEA as among the most devastating.

PLEA president Mike Petchel concedes the union hasn't turned down many similar requests by dues-paying officers. Our representatives felt that Joe used excessive force," says Petchel. They felt the discipline was appropriate. That was it."

Petchel stops for a moment, perhaps realizing he sounds more like management than union. In his next breath, Petchel defends Perez: If the Rodney King incident had never happened, I think this may not have been viewed as critically or with such sensitivity by the department. But to compare it with a Rodney King certainly is very unfair to Joe. I don't think anybody feels good about the Joe Perez case."

PLEA didn't turn down Chief Garrett's stepson, Craig Scott, after the department fired Scott last year for police brutality. And in that case, attorney Napier raised enough doubts about Scott's culpability that a city hearing officer recommended reinstatement-a conclusion with which the board agreed.

EX-PHOENIX COP Ron Cherry drove to downtown Phoenix one morning in late March after working all-night security at a west-side hotel. His task was to convince city hearing officer J.W. Parker that Joe Perez's firing by the Phoenix Police Department had been too severe.

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