I have to wonder if the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association would be so supportive of fired killer-cop Richard Chrisman if his victim had been white instead of Latino.
PLEA has gone all out to back Chrisman, who has kept his lips zipped about the October 5 shooting of unarmed south Phoenix resident Daniel Rodriguez. Simultaneously, the police union has taken great pains to smear Phoenix Police Officer Sergio Virgillo, the other cop present when the shooting went down.
Virgillo told investigators there was no reason for Chrisman to shoot Rodriguez and his dog. Neither were a serious threat to either officer, according to Virgillo. Chrisman currently faces charges of second-degree murder, animal cruelty, and aggravated assault over the incident.
Rodriguez's mother recently filed a notice of claim with the City of Phoenix for $30 million.
Chrisman's a PLEA member, Virgillo is not, though PLEA technically represents both men under the union's Memorandum of Understanding with the city. PLEA helped Chrisman make bail, and PLEA President Mark Spencer and PLEA lobbyist Levi Bolton have tried to influence the Maricopa County Attorney's case against Chrisman.
Spencer and Bolton made contact with MCAO liaison Keith Manning, raising the issue of the Chrisman case with him. And 48 hours after the shooting, Spencer called a detective at the PPD's Drug Enforcement Bureau to dig up dirt on Virgillo and his wife. (Spencer refused to be interviewed by MCAO investigators over the matter.)
KPHO/Channel 5 (a.k.a., "PLEA TV") later ran a piece detailing Virgillo's wife's conviction for being part of a drug trafficking scheme. According to an interview done by the MCAO with the same cop Spencer pumped for info, wiretaps on Virgillo at the time revealed he had no knowledge of his wife's lawbreaking.
Now PLEA, which has transformed itself under Spencer's watch into an anti-immigrant lobbying group, is holding a BBQ/fundraiser for Chrisman, who was recently axed by the PPD. The BBQ will take place at PLEA's offices at 1102 West Adams Street in Phoenix this Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Whether or not Chrisman is found guilty of second-degree murder, his activities have been a stain on the department. First there was the 2005 incident where he planted a crack pipe on a homeless, mentally ill African-American woman, which landed him on the MCAO's Brady list.
He should have been fired then, but he was given a day's suspension instead. Then there was his involvement in the PPD's off-duty scandal.
Bottom line: Chrisman is a bad cop, and deserves his dismissal. And PLEA, with this BBQ and its other actions, has let us all know what sort of organization it is.
My guess is that PLEA would not have been so forthcoming had Rodriguez's last name been Jones, if you catch my drift. PLEA has defined itself as anti-Hispanic, despite having a few minorities on its staff and board. This includes Bolton, who is African-American, but still cops PLEA's bigoted line toward Latinos.
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Yeah, Chrisman has (or had) a Hispanic girlfriend. That doesn't spare him or PLEA in this, no matter how often Chrisman parades her before the cameras.
(I should point out that PLEA's views are not the same as all of the officers they represent, certainly. In fact, PLEA's dues-paying membership has been steadily declining over the last couple of years.)
PLEA's anti-Hispanic stance as well as PLEA's unwavering support of Chrisman will taint it for some time to come. This BBQ should be closely monitored by the press. Those who attend should be scolded for lending aid to a man who has so clearly disgraced the profession of law enforcement.