The Pinal County Sheriff's Office confirmed today what New Times first reported last night: Deputy Louie Puroll has been fired over comments he made to New Times reporter Paul Rubin following Rubin's story on Puroll's account of what happened the day the deputy claims he was shot by drug smugglers in the Arizona desert.
In an e-mail from PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney, the Sheriff's Office says it found Puroll to have violated 10 rules of conduct, including the PCSO's policies on truthfulness, media and public information, and performance of duty. The investigation by the PCSO's Professional Standards Unit also found Puroll guilty of incompetence, and having violated the PCSO's codes of ethics and conduct.
In other words, Puroll lied.
The firing stems from comments Puroll made to Rubin published in Rubin's story Whitewash. Puroll told Rubin a few details about some encounters he's had with members of a Mexican drug cartel.
Here's an excerpt:
Puroll tells me that representatives of "the Mexican cartel" have approached him four or five times at this restaurant over the years wanting to do business.
"They didn't want me to sell or buy the stuff, just that they'd make it worth my while to look the other way out in the desert if I bumped into them," he says.
Puroll says he didn't arrest any of these men, call for backup, or write reports about the encounters.
Puroll also told Rubin about a potential threat against the reporter's life made by a "rancher of Mexican decent," who offered to off Rubin for some of things written in his first article on Puroll, Pinalcchio.
Here's an excerpt:
After four hours of dialogue, I shut down my tape-recorder at the truck stop.
Puroll tells me: "Now that that's off, let me tell you something. You're lucky to be alive right now."
The deputy explains that a friend of his, a "rancher of Mexican descent," recently offered to murder me because of what I wrote in "Pinalcchio."
I ask the deputy what he'd said to his pal.
"I said that it wouldn't be a good idea, not to worry about it," he says evenly.
I ask him why he's telling me this. He sees me taking notes, but continues.
"Thought you'd like to know some people were upset with you, that's all," the deputy replies, smiling slightly.
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Gaffney tells New Times that despite Puroll's firing being the result of the deputy's dishonesty, the Sheriff's Office still stands behind Puroll's account of what happened the day he says he was shot by drug smugglers.
Sheriff Paul Babeu says the following:
"I stood by my deputy after he was shot by drug smugglers in April because his statements to both criminal and internal investigators were consistent, supported by physical evidence, radio transmissions, GPS coordinates, other victims/ witnesses and later through gunshot residue testing conducted on the shirt he was wearing. The manner in which Deputy Puroll conducted himself following the shooting investigation when interviewed by Reporter Paul Rubin brought great discredit to himself and the men and women representing our sworn law enforcement profession."
Puroll, meanwhile, has formally appealed his termination.