Longform

Dog Day Afternoon

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Delfino says he asked one of the SWAT officers what happened to Dre and was told that the dog had been "neutralized" with the fire extinguisher. He asked the officer if the dog had attacked anybody, and the cop said no.

As smoke filled the house and Kush's efforts to save the dog failed, he finally fled from the burning home and was immediately thrown to the ground and his hands and feet were cuffed by four SWAT officers.

Meanwhile, Trisha Golden continued frantically to call for Dre to flee the house.

"We were like screaming for Dre, and [a deputy] turned around and said, `Why don't you shut the fuck up?!'" Trisha Golden says.

I couldn't reach Eric Kush or Gabrial Golden for comment. But Kush, a biking and skateboarding enthusiast, told KTVK-TV Channel 3 that sheriff's deputies thought it was hilarious that his dog had burned to death in the fire.

"As they're hog-tying me, they have the nerve and the audacity to laugh at me and say, `Did you hear that dog screaming upstairs?'" Kush told Channel 3. "I don't know how they have the audacity and the heart to say something like that."

Eric Kush is not an intimidating fellow. He's about five-feet-six-inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds. There was no indication he had taken anybody hostage or was endangering the neighborhood.

In fact, neighbors say he is a friendly and easygoing guy. His only legal blemish was the outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

If MCSO truly believed they were facing a madman armed to the teeth with armor-piercing bullets that would cut through the flimsy chicken-wire and stucco walls of homes in the neighborhood, they didn't have the sense to alert neighbors to get the hell out of Dodge.

Instead, they left the entire area at risk of getting mowed down by a spray of bullets fired from automatic assault rifles that easily could travel a mile. But who cares about innocent neighbors when Arpaio's morons take to the street to make a pinch?

Who cares that there was a far easier and safer way to nab Kush for questioning?

The most prudent, cautious and least costly way to pick up Kush would have involved only a handful of officers. That wouldn't have been anywhere near as much fun as whipping out the big assault rifles and putting on all that manly body armor.

And MCSO wouldn't get to deploy Arpaio's beloved armored personnel carrier if they opted for the low-key approach to community policing. Lucky the damn tank didn't run over some kids playing in the street!



Arpaio unleashed his SWAT team on Ahwatukee without bothering to give Phoenix police, which has primary jurisdiction in the community, a heads-up about his latest Joe Show.

The sheriff's failure to alert Phoenix police about the planned SWAT assault will be the focus of a high-level meeting between the two police agencies. Phoenix City Councilman Greg Stanton says Phoenix police should have been notified before MCSO launched such a dangerous and ultimately unnecessary SWAT maneuver.

Most police agencies would consider the afternoon's outing disastrous. But for Arpaio's idiots, it was a good day -- at least they made an arrest. No matter that they arrested Kush on a misdemeanor warrant and found none of the automatic weapons that were supposed to be stashed in the house.

As fire spread throughout the house and engulfed the dog, the SWAT team soon had another crisis erupt.

The armored personnel carrier was pulled back from the house as the fire raged. But a deputy apparently failed to set the brakes on the heavy vehicle and it began rolling down a hill and smashed into a parked car.

The combat vehicle caused at least $4,000 damage to Julie Madrigal's car. The 44-year-old mother and her 9-year-old daughter had already been terrified by the tear gas assault as they fled from their car and ran into their house. At least Madrigal and her daughter weren't in the path of the carrier as it careened down the hill.

"I heard three shots as we were running in," Madrigal says. "I thought, `Oh my God. They are shooting at us.' I didn't know what was going on."

Madrigal says she watched the house burst into flames and moments later was shocked to see the "tank" roll down the road toward her car.

"All of a sudden, I saw my car jump back three feet and the tank land on top of it," she says.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty