We figured it might be a matter of time before we'd hear more about fired Chandler police officer Dan Lovelace after he was hired by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to be one of the PCSO's finest.
Sources tell New Times Officer Lovelace is now under investigation for prisoner abuse stemming from a jailhouse incident on December 11 at the Florence jail.
Lovelace's law enforcement past is documented, dark, and hard to forget.
In 2000, he was involved in a high-speed pursuit of a stolen car through a residential area that resulted in the death of an innocent ASU student driving home from work.
In 2002, Lovelace killed an unarmed woman in the drive-through of a Walgreens' as she attempted to pass a fake prescription. Her little boy was in his car seat as Lovelace fired away.
Chandler terminated Lovelace and charged him with murder. In 2004, a jury found him not guilty.
After the verdict, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office added him to the Brady List of rogue officers for "inconsistencies between his trial testimony and statements given to internal affairs."
Chandler reportedly paid out $7.4 million in wrongful-death settlements thanks to Lovelace.
In 2009, newly elected Pinal County Sheriff Babeu, also an ex-Chandler officer, gave his friend -- who had campaigned for him -- a job.
According to trusted law enforcement sources, Lovelace was involved in the alleged abuse of a prisoner inside the recreation area of the Pinal County jail, and the alleged abuse involved a federal prisoner held on an immigration violation for U. S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
The inmate, who may or may not be able to speak English, attempted to communicate with detention officers that he needed the door to the bathroom unlocked so he could relieve himself.
After not being able to hold it anymore, he went into a corner, dropped his pants around his ankles and deficated.
That's when Lovelace and three other officers responded. The alleged abuse of the prisoner involved pepper spray, handcuffs, and rough treatment, the sources say.
Pinal County spokesman Tim Gaffney confirmed to New Times that Lovelace was involved in an incident with an inmate who "defecated on the floor of a holding area with several other inmates present. The inmate, who was still squatting, was given verbal commands by detention officers to stand up, but he did not comply. Lovelace used a short burst of pepper spray on the inmate, secured him in handcuffs, and then the inmate was removed from the room."
Gaffney said Lovelace's actions were under review by the PCSO's Professional Standards Units and that he has been reassigned to "a non-inmate contact status until this case is reviewed to ensure all policies and procedures were adhered to."
The Professional Standards Unit is the same unit that cleared Deputy Louie Puroll of any misconduct following his purported shoot-out with drug smugglers in the Vekol Valley.
One source said the Pinal County Jail holds ICE detainees as well as federal prisoners for the United States Marshal's Service. They estimated that Pinal County takes in as much as $750,000.00 per month from the feds for holding prisoners. That's $9 million dollars a year that could now be in jeopardy if it's found that a federal prisoner was abused by jail officers. Especially one who has a long history of reckless and dangerous conduct the sheriff was well aware of when he hired him.
Stay tuned. Sources have told NT there could be video of the alleged abuse that will either vindicate Lovelace or cook his goose.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.