Maricopa County Craziness

Don Stapley Arrest Audio Recording Released; Talk of Charges "Filed" and Handcuffing Etiquette


Image: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Don Stapley, in the mug shot taken last week from jail

Talk of handcuffing and charges "filed" can be heard on an audio recording made during last week's arrest of Don Stapley, one of five members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Scroll down for a link to the tough-to-take, interference-plagued recording, released today by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office. But first, the highlights as best as we could discern them.

The recording begins with the voice of one of the sheriff's deputies. Imagine Stapley pulling into a space in the parking garage next to the county administration building at 301 West Jefferson. He gets out of the car and hears, "Mr. Stapley."

*Wha, what are you doing?" Stapley blurts out.

"Trying to job my job, sir," comes the helpful answer. 

That's when Stapley pulls out the line quoted in the sheriff's news release: "You've got to be kidding."

Someone tells him to place his phone on his car. Stapley, clearly frustrated, vents again, "You have got to be joking."

He then asks if one of the deputies -- it seems like there are at least two -- could "please read me my charges."

"Fraudulent schemes," comes the reply.

"Fraudulent schemes?" Stapley echoes, incredulously.

"Perjury. Theft."

"Where does it say that?" Stapley demands.

The deputy seems somewhat confused. He doesn't seem to realize the "charges" are just recommended charges at this point -- no prosecutor had been consulted before the arrest, and no county attorney's office in the state has yet shown willingness to file a complaint.

"These are the charges," the deputy says.

"From who?"

"The county filed them. Arizona filed them," a deputy says.

"When did they file them?" Stapley counters. He called that one, didn't he?

The question of whether Stapley told anyone from county's Protective Services squad to interfere with the arrest isn't answered in the eight-minute file, as far as we can tell. County officials deny that happened, and we're waiting to see if we can get an interview with the Protective Services personnel who showed up at the scene of the arrest.

Twice in the recording, it sounds like deputies inform other people that a law enforcement action is taking place and that they should get back. In both cases, it seems like no one gave the deputies a problem.

Stapley is annoyed at the idea of getting cuffed, asking if it's really necessary. A deputy tells him that "policy dictates" handcuffs in an arrest. But in a touching gesture, the deputy sort of cuts Stapley a break:

"For your sake, I'm handcuffing you in the front, rather than behind your back," he tells Stapley, who's been a County Supervisor since he was first elected in1993.

"You guys really know what you're getting yourselves into?" Stapley warns.

"I have my orders," the good soldier replies. Once inside the squad car, Stapley argues that he needs to use phone, but is rebuffed.

If you want to brave the actual recording,

click here

click here


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern