By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Sheriff Joe Arpaio always has been a polarizing figure, and the MCSO's bully tactics and the often-deadly conditions it maintains in Arpaio's gulag archipelago are well documented.
Moreover, Arpaio's embrace of nativism, his anti-immigrant dragnets, and his support for Arizona Senate Bill 1070 have allowed him to play the villain or the hero, depending on what side of that debate you're on.
Then, there's the rampant corruption within the MCSO itself, which scribes at this paper have been writing about since Sheriff Joe took office 17 years ago.
You might say that the current state of this corruption has been confirmed by the recent leak of MCSO Deputy Chief Frank Munnell's memo outlining alleged criminal activity and malfeasance within Arpaio's command staff.
And then there are the multiple investigations of Arpaio's office by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, the FBI, the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office, the Arizona Attorney General's Office, and, due to Arpaio's direct request, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, which, I'll admit has about as much claim to law enforcement expertise as the fictional deputy dawgs on Reno 911!.
Indeed, the Phoenix cops I know take it as a personal insult if they are compared to Arpaio's boys in beige. This, despite the fact that Phoenix Law Enforcement Association president Mark Spencer has been an unflagging supporter of Sheriff Joe, and PLEA itself has essentially mirrored Arpaio's line on immigration enforcement and SB 1070.
Still, unlike some lefties in this city, I have never put the PPD in the same category as the MCSO. Though I've been critical of Phoenix cops in the past, I've also become aware of Phoenix police officers whose work and professionalism I hold in the highest regard.
I'm specifically thinking of the men of the PPD's Career Criminal Squad, who've been responsible for taking violent white supremacists off the streets and busting murder-for-hire rackets.
Similarly, I've always been impressed with the very different skill sets of the officers in the PPD's Community Response Squad, the unit responsible for keeping the peace at demonstrations while at the same time protecting the First Amendment rights of demonstrators. On more than one occasion, I've seen the former head of that squad, Sergeant Brian Murray, get between feuding factions ready to exchange blows, talking down both sides.
So how do I reconcile the issues that have emerged from the tragic October 5 shooting of an unarmed citizen, Daniel Rodriguez, allegedly by PPD officer Richard Chrisman, a 10-year veteran of the force, with my own knowledge of some of the proactive, positive work the PPD does?
By all accounts, Rodriguez's death was unnecessary. If we assume for the sake of argument that fellow officer Sergio Virgillo was correct that the apparently unarmed Rodriguez was no threat to the two cops, then the two should have been able to restrain the 29-year-old without killing him. See, Rodriguez was no giant — he was about the same height as Chrisman (5-foot-7) and well under Chrisman's 175 pounds.
After the shooting, demonstrators in front of the PPD's headquarters demanded justice for Rodriguez, and there were suggestions that race played a role in the killing. However, there has been no evidence that Chrisman made racially charged statements. In fact, Chrisman's live-in girlfriend is Hispanic.
Furthermore, the call Chrisman and Virgillo were responding to — from Rodriguez's mom, Elvira Fernandez — suggests that she was afraid of her son. On the 911 recording of the call, she said Rodriguez was acting violently, throwing things around, and had punched a hole in a wall in her trailer home.
"I'm just afraid he's going to come back and hurt me," she said in the call. "He's hurt me before."
But Rodriguez's apparently being no angel doesn't justify his death.
Even if Rodriguez was resisting and not complying with their commands, a pair of Phoenix cops should have been able to handle the situation without a fatality. Particularly after Rodriguez was Tased twice and pepper-sprayed, according to Chrisman's probable-cause statement.
Both Chrisman and Virgillo have incidents in their past that are eyebrow-raising.
Although Virgillo's personnel file testifies to an exemplary 14-year record with the department, KPHO recently reported that Virgillo's wife, Maria, was indicted in 2008 for her participation in a drug-smuggling ring that involved her brother. She received three years probation.
The TV station found no evidence that Virgillo, who was then a detective with PPD's drug-enforcement bureau, knew of his wife's criminal activities. But according to Channel 5, she was aware of certain department undercover operations and fed such information to her brother.
As scandalous as that may sound, the videotape of Chrisman and another officer planting drug paraphernalia on a mentally handicapped homeless woman is outright disgusting and troubling on many levels.
The video was turned over to the press when interim County Attorney Rick Romley and Phoenix Public Safety Manager (read: Police Chief) Jack Harris held a press conference announcing that a second-degree murder charge and a charge of animal cruelty (for offing the victim's dog) had been added to Chrisman's initial charge of aggravated assault.
The paraphernalia-planting incident earned Chrisman, who claimed it was a joke, a day's suspension and a spot on Maricopa County's "Brady List," a tally of law enforcement officers whose credibility is suspect. Chrisman is reportedly one of 480 Valley cops on the list, 254 of them PPD officers.
According to several reports, Officer Virgillo isn't on that list.
But it's that tape that bothers me the most. Although four officers were present, it's Chrisman and Officer Diana Pineda who plant a crack pipe and Brillo pad on the woman. The other two were aware of what transpired but chose not to report the episode to superiors.
The internal investigation that followed after the PPD and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office were made aware of the surveillance video, states that the woman was never charged in relation to the drug paraphernalia (though she was arrested for an outstanding warrant). As if this fact makes the scurrilous hassling of a suspect a-okay.
Watching the video, which everyone in the Valley has now seen, Pineda and Chrisman seem a little too practiced in this maneuver, as though they'd done it before. Chrisman told investigators that they'd confiscated the pipe and Brillo from someone else, someone they didn't arrest.
I'm sure many folks were thinking just what I was thinking as I watched that video. Why are Phoenix cops riding around with throw-down evidence? Have they framed people in the past? What if they did this to me? How would I defend myself against the words of four sworn officers of the law?
Finally, this incident occurred in 2005, so why are we learning about it only now, after one of the officers involved is accused of killing an unarmed man and his pet? Hypothetically, if Chrisman had been dismissed or relegated to desk duty, Rodriguez and his dog might still be alive.
Add to the Chrisman affair the recent incident involving a Phoenix police officer collared for allegedly choking his girlfriend and then punching the officer who was trying to arrest him. Ditto the fallout from Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson's alleged roughing up in March at the hands of a rookie cop.
What you've got then is a serious image problem, one not easily allayed by handing the South Mountain Precinct, where the Rodriguez shooting and the Johnson assault occurred, a new commander in Chris Crockett, African-American though he is.
The 45-member panel, appointed by Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos to review alleged PPD abuse incidents, certainly will address the issues raised by the Chrisman affair. But the PPD should be on notice from here on out that it'll get no more free passes because the department happens to share local air with the MCSO.
Phoenix cops need to know that whenever they pull over a citizen to make a simple inquiry, the image of two Phoenix police officers donning plastic gloves and dipping into their patrol car's trunk for a crack pipe to plant on a victim will be uppermost in the minds of many of us, even if we were otherwise inclined to trust them.
Other members of the community, like Daniel Rodriguez's tormented mother — who still weeps over her decision to call 911 on October 5 — will envision Rodriguez in his casket and wonder why he had to die.
Is that unfair to the great cops, like the ones I've praised heretofore, and will continue to praise in the future?
Yes, but it is nonetheless a reality — one that the PPD must deal with. Now, like the MCSO, the department is squarely on our radar screen, and questions about not only Chrisman but all those Brady List officers must be answered.
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I'd like to know , who signed off on the mystical search warrant. Search Warrants are not automatically issued on 911 calls.
There were also two different and conflicting versions ( police reports ) attached to the search warrant. As I first read the story , It sounded as though Rodriguez was demand-ing to see a search warrant , but none was produced.
Recently , A friend of mine confronted a couple of prowlers , fired a single shot , and thencalled the Phoenix Police. One hour and forty minutes later - they arrived.
Considering the recent story involving the shooting of a home owner , who was holding a home invader , at gunpoint , It has now become apparent that citizens will be forced to defend their own property and then caustiously call law enforcement for help.
It's a troubling factor that will undoubtedly lead to the spread of cartel related activity due to the mistrust of those individuals , who have taken an oath to Protect and Serve.
If Daniel Rodriguez was not a threat, why was he tased by both officers, including Off. Sergio Virgillo? According to police accounts, the suspect was aggressive and got physical with the police, and after his pit bull approached the officers and was shot, Rodriguez 'went crazy', and grabbed for the officers gun, and was killed. It is unfortunate absolutely, but the facts must be reported, not just insinuation and rumor.
Only good cops are the ones that bust white supremacists groups and protect your right to protest in the streets according to this writer.Rodriguez was tased twice and pepper sprayed. Was he on something? Why was his mother so afraid of him? So, it's okay for Mom to be afraid, but not a Police Officer? The most dangerous calls are to violent situations like this where family members are involved. So, next time there is a call from Rodriguez's Mom, don't show up. Then we can hear about the Police not doing their job. There are good cops and bad cops, just like there are good honest writers and bias bad writers.
So one or two bad apples in a police department in the 5th largest city in the nation is going to cause you to paint all the hard working law enforcement officers as 'dirty'? How sad for you...
I think we should revolt every day the mcso and some others in law enforcement remind me of the gestapo and secret police in world war two era in gemany and russia
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
How many hundreds of citizens through the years have had to pay for their sins?
I wouldnt read anything these fuckin morons write This scumbag staff are a bunch of lying motherfuckers
Dave- I was wondering why you woud waste your time reading this article since your position seems to be they are morons and are lying? If you know this article is untrue, why not come forward with what you know about the situation or are you just blowing hot air. If you want your opinion to count, use moe facts and less vulgarity.
Regarding the death of Sgt. Drenth,I apologize for asking these questions but because the motive is unresolved these difficult and perhaps wild theories must be explored:Was there any relationship between Sgt. Drenth and DPS Officer Mark Serna who committed suicide on October 19? Was there a suicide pact? Is any of Drenth's DNA in the hotel room where Serna killed himself?Was a computer forensics exam conducted on Sgt. Drenths cellular phone, his work computer and most importantly his home computer seeking information about possible enemies, suicide plans or other possible personal problems that might have been unknown to his family, friends or colleagues?Former officer George Contreras said on television that Drenth was a guitarist who taught children in Drenths home. Did Drenth molest a child whose parents were about to expose him causing Drenth to then elaborately stage his own death and thus avoid exposure and prosecution while rewarding his wife with survivors benefits unavailable to survivors of suicide?Was Drenth involved in drugs or drug transactions or protection of drug dealers that led to his death during a clandestine deal?Was a post mortem drug analysis of Drenth's blood done?Was Drenth involved in sex on duty and something went horribly wrong?Was his car GPS turned of purposefully or was it broken?Drenth was known as being tactically mindful. Calling out your location is a basic of officer safety. Why didnt he call out his location?Again, sorry for asking these dreadful questions. Rest in peace Sgt. Drenth.
Look at all of the hate. "Phoenix cops need to know that whenever they pull over a citizen to make a simple inquiry, the image of two Phoenix police officers donning plastic gloves and dipping into their patrol car's trunk for a crack pipe to plant on a victim will be uppermost in the minds of many of us." So is the first image in your mind when you see other people working at their profession also the worst-case example. If you go in McDonalds does the image of a manager holding a female employee hostage and forcing her to strip and give head to hear boyfriend come into your head? There are bad apples in every bunch. Grow up.
my wife was raped by 2 small town southern cops in a southern Georgia jail back in 1968. they had her locked up for 2 months and took turn raping her every night for 2 months. back then you didnt sue you just dealt with it and moved on.she was 15 years old at the time.
let a few pigs beat you half to death in your life and you will change your mind about them. i have been beat twice in my 62 years on earth by so called police officers. i was a hippie long hair in the 60s and 70s and thats all it took back in my day to get a beating by a pig.
i have seen this same cop who killed that young man hanging out with the Hells Angels at their clubhouse on 24th ave a few times.
you can tell that pig in the picture is on roids / steroids. his neck is to big and thick like a pit bull. that comes from roid use down at the local gym where the pigs buy them from an illegal drug dealing roid dealer. he was probably in a steroid roid rage at the time he pulled the trigger on his pistol. or he was tweeking on ice/meth.
Wow Stephen Lemons. I am amazed you finally did a negative article after all these year on the Phoenix PD. Did the checks from Jack Ballentine bounce? Did Mike Polombo unfriend you on FaceBook? It’s only taken you about 4 years to catch up with the rest of us. It’s nice to see you finally woke up and realize the Phoenix PD are equally as bad as MCSO. It’s a great article and spot on Stephen, but all-in-all, you’re still a douchebag who is in bed with the Phoenix PD.
Over here in Scottsdale corruption is a routine, professional practice. Making false statements on documents is very easy to determine. What are the reasons these deficiencies are not corrected? There are very easy to detect. The police are only the tip of the iceberg of corruption and incompetence that reaches into the inner depths of the Scottsdale Justice Court. Might that entity aptly be renamed: Scottsdale Kangaroo Court. Joseph Stalin would be proud.
read the website cops gone bad to see all the shit they are really up to everyday 365. pigs are worse than the so called bad guys they chase around nowdays.
People do not read the whole column all the time. They see the headlines. If my relative gets hurts because of your negative comments as to the headline......I may just sue!
a real person wouldnt sue they instead would kick their ass to a bloody pulp! only pussies sue. they let the lawyers do all the fighting for them cause they are to fat and out of shape to do it for themselves.
Maureen, That's right the people just see the headlines. That's the game the police and prosecutors play with those they go after without search warrants, without arrest warrants, failing to follow protocol. Now when the tables are turned YOU are mad. At least he is living while the young man is dead. If people think it can't happen to them in this county, think again! The abuse is so entrenched in the culture of Arizona that ALL are at risk.
So because you are not like me, I should be afraid of everyone??? I don't think so. Not all people are out to get you. Not all police officers are out to kill you. The journalist generalized in the headlines. But was more specific in the column. My point was that people do not read the column....so all police officers stink. I don't think so.
The statement "Now when the tables are turned YOU are mad" was rude and off the point.
It is perfectly fair to the good cops that they are tainted by the bad cops - because the good cops refuse to "rat" on the bad ones!
When they start actively policing themselves, then they will have my sympathy when tarred by the antics of their peers.
For now, the keys to the jail, so to speak, are in their own hands. Don't want your reputation imprisoned by the criminal acts of others? Then man-up and do the job we pay you to do.
Why are you all so quick to judge, did you not know Vergillo's story has CHANGED 3 TIMES! Character matters when it comes to he said she said. Why are you all judging BEFORE evidence has been brought foreward. The WIFE does matter, you all seem to think if it was you who pulled the trigger that you would be sentenced BEFORE any evidence, and that this is just cops taking care of cops, BUT Drug DETECTIVE's WIFE is a smuggler and she walks with probation...that sounds more like Vergillo's pull in law to get her off. So either he shouldn't be a detective or a husband if he cant even figure out he is living with a smuggler. Wonder how she got the tips to get away with it for soo long?
Reality Check for ADD Sara:
1) Rodriguez was unarmed and posed no threat to the lives of the officers
2) Chrisman doesn't get to blow some guy away just because he's not obeying C.'s orders
3) Virgillo's record is spotless, unlike Chrisman who is on the Brady list for good reason
4) Chrisman will get his day in court, but he's correctly charged with murder
If he didn't pose a threat to them then why did both officers have to use their tasers? And Chrisman is on the Brady list for a completely different reason then integrity. Also have you ever met or knew officer Chrisman, I do. So before you start running your mouth know every fact. Like on the 911 call when his mom said her son has hit her before. Also what happen to presumed innocent UNTIL being proved guilty. Just get your facts straight not what you read glancing through a article. We all read what you were saying over and over. Get something new
yea the cop should bash the guy or girl in the head till they bleed red and are brain damaged for life in a zombie state of mind then tazer them to death. if that doesnt work shoot and kill the bastard! thats what cops do.
"Also what happen to presumed innocent UNTIL being proved guilty. Just get your facts straight not what you read glancing through a article." The police / media do this all the time to those they arrest, so why should it not be done when it happens to be one of them? Fired Deputy County Attorney Aubuchon stated in a transcript that they (convict) them in the media -- sounded like part of their standard operating procedure for getting convictions. The officer should be treat just like they treat those they arrest.
since when is an unarmed man not a threat, how do you know he wasn't going after the officers weapon? yes he should just let the perp walk away? Read again about Virgillo, spotless..??? Innocent until PROVEN, right now you are just believing Virgillo's SECOND story! Wait and see..officer justified in the killing of a pcp junkie wife beater..Virgillo..is already guilty of not diffusing the situation..yup stand back and let your back have to do all the work.
Whatever happened to the phoenix cop who was pulled over for DUI in Gilbert or Chandler a few months ago and resisted arrest...was he fired or given another slap on the back...I mean on the hand
Fuck You Lemons! FREE CHRISMAN! He had a clean shoot, too bad is back-up is such a fucking pussy......the fucker just stood there and didnt do shit! Chrisman took action.....the boys mother called police because. her words...."she was afraid for her life." Suck on that dickhead.
Lemons is nothing more than a pot smoking scumbag.....and when I pull you over Lemons, you better be squeeky fucking clean.....I mean so clean a K9 wouldnt alert on you or your car.
This whole thing stinks. What if there was something more going on between the two officers then we know about. As the days go on it becomes more and more apparent that there is more to this story then we first thought there was.
Sensitive about the wife-beaters, eh? Well, anybody who'd identify with Chuck Norris THAT much??? Says a lot. That and your earlier idiot post. And, no, New Times doesn't ALWAYS say it was some conspiracy by the police -- just when it actually is. Go back to butt-smooching Arpaio (like Greendot08).
Matthew's even got a picture of himself in a wifebeater to prove he's a racist redneck. Matthew, you obviously don't read much. New Times write about police officers getting shot by illegal immigrants, too. Not that this happens very much. Most of the cop killers/shooters are whitebreads like you
How do you know I'm white?? Just because I have Chuck Norris of my avatar?? Just because assuming someone has a wife beater on does not make them a racist. Yes and there are articles on the New Times about officers shot in the line of duty, but the journalist always assume its a conspiracy of officer corruption. Another fact.. when someone assumes the identity of another without seeing them in person, is in fact a racist themselves Tomato... advice, get the IPOD out of your ear and get back into reality.
Its really sad when these reporters put up articles about police officers wrongful doings in the paper but do you see anything about when an officer gets shot and killed by illegal immigrants?? NO, to these journalist its all just corruption ... right?? POS!
You're too stupid to realize this, Greendot18, but when an idiot like questions the credentials of New Times writers, it only makes intelligent and sane readers respect them all the more. Dumb-ass trailer-trash can't get away with smugness, you moron. Nobody, but a bunch of neo-Nazis, geriatric motorcycle-gang members, and pathetic old rednecks buys anything you say.