We've spent the better part of today -- and last night -- trying to figure out who's responsible for the accidental release of a would-be cop-killer freed on $320 bond by a Pinal County justice of the peace. However, as much as it breaks our heart to inform you, it seems the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is off the hook.
Other than that, it seems none of the other agencies involved know who dropped the ball or how it happened.
If you're unfamiliar with what happened, here's the gist of it: Daniel Perez tried to shoot a Department of Public Safety officer in Casa Grande on December 10. In the process, he was shot by officers and treated at a Maricopa County hospital and briefly placed in the custody of the MCSO.
While he was in custody, it was learned that Perez had an outstanding misdemeanor failure to comply warrant out of Pinal County. Perez was transferred to the custody of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, he appeared in a Pinal County justice court, and was released on $320 bond -- nobody seeming to realize he wasn't supposed to be released.
The DPS says it filed the paperwork that ordered Perez not be released and sent it to the Pinal County Superior Court, and the agency "thinks" it sent a copy to the PCSO, too.
The PCSO tells New Times it never received any paperwork from the DPS saying Perez was not to be released.
PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney says the jail checks for outstanding warrants or hold orders whenever an inmate is admitted to the joint, and whenever one is released. He says detention officers ran Perez's name through their system before he was released and nothing showed up saying he was to be held.
This morning, the three cop shops involved (the PCSO, the MCSO, and the DPS) were all trying to figure out who didn't give who the proper paperwork -- or from whom the paperwork was even supposed to come.
The PCSO says it never received the paperwork from the MCSO, which suggested the MCSO was potentially to blame for the mix-up that allowed a would-be cop-killer back onto the streets.
"We were just the middle men [between the DPS and the PCSO]," Sergeant Jesse Spurgin, a spokesman for the MCSO, told New Times this morning.
MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen adds, "In no way, shape or form was the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office culpable for the erroneous release of inmate Daniel Perez."
The flacks appear to be right.
"DPS completed and delivered paperwork needed to book Daniel Perez, in Pinal County, on two counts of aggravated assault-dangerous, regarding this month's DPS officer-involved shooting incident in Casa Grande.
"DPS does not run the jail system so it would be inappropriate to speculate on what may have happened to that paperwork," the DPS said in a statement this afternoon. That means Pinal County authorities should have received the paperwork from the DPS, not the MCSO. Whether it did is still unclear.
The jail system isn't the only thing the DPS doesn't run. The justice court that let Perez walk out of jail on a $320 bond -- apparently without realizing he tried to kill a cop -- also falls outside the the DPS.
We called Judge Phillip Bain -- the judge who let Perez walk -- this afternoon to ask if he ever received a hold order from the DPS. Inexplicably, we were pawned off to Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the Pinal County Attorney's Office, who really doesn't know much about what happened -- mainly because his office had little to nothing to do with Perez's accidental release.
Kalaitzidis says his office -- and the other agencies involved -- are in the process of trying to find out exactly what went wrong.
"Something went really wrong here," he says. "The question now is finding out what it was and making sure it doesn't ever happen again."
Everyone involved seems to agree on one thing, though: Daniel Perez is a really bad dude and needs to be brought in as soon as possible.
Perez is described as 5-foot-7, 180 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He's said to be armed and dangerous. Anyone with any info is asked to call the Department of Public Safety at 602 223 2212.
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