Tribal Cop Under Investigation for Domestic Violence

From left: Francis Bradley Sr., Chief of Police Jesse Crabtree, and Francis Bradley Jr.
From left: Francis Bradley Sr., Chief of Police Jesse Crabtree, and Francis Bradley Jr. Fort McDowell Tribal Police/Facebook
An ex-Fort McDowell Tribal Police sergeant has resigned and is under criminal investigation for allegedly abusing his wife.

Fort McDowell is an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, about 23 miles northeast of Phoenix. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is a 950-member Native American tribe located in the 40-square mile reservation.

The allegations against Sergeant Francis Bradley Jr. surfaced at the latest Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board meeting, according to audio of the meeting reviewed by Phoenix New Times.

Bradley Jr. and his wife got into an argument on August 8, said AZPOST compliance specialist Amanda Faust at the November 20 board meeting. Bradley's wife alleges that Bradley shoved her to the ground and pushed his knees against her jaw and throat, restricting her ability to breathe. He allegedly told his wife to roll over onto her stomach, then he put his hands on her shoulders and pinned her to the ground, Faust said.

"She tried to protect her neck as she feared for her life and she screamed for her 10-year-old daughter to come," Faust said. "Bradley then released her and left the residence," at which point Bradley's wife called the police. New Times is withholding the alleged victim's name.

The woman and her 10-year-old daughter were interviewed by police at the scene. The girl said she was asleep when she heard her mother cry for help, but froze out of fear and was too scared to leave the bedroom. After that, she saw her father walk out of his bedroom and leave the residence.

Bradley's wife was examined by a forensic nurse that evening, who noted that she had "contusions to her rear neck, back of her right leg, under the lower lip, middle of the forehead, right side of the neck, left inner bicep, and under the chin," Faust told the board. The woman was then transported to Mercy Gilbert Hospital for further evaluation because she said she was nauseated.

Bradley was also interviewed by criminal investigators who responded to the scene. According to Faust, Bradley "said he was attempting to leave the bedroom after the verbal argument when [his wife] blocked his path. Therefore he pushed her to get around her which caused her to fall into the dresser and then onto the floor."

Bradley claimed that because his wife was kicking and flailing her arms, he turned her onto her stomach and pressed down on her shoulder blades so he could restrain her while he grabbed the keys from on top of the dresser. He then left the home and returned some time later. Criminal investigators noted he had no injuries.

Bradley was arrested and processed into Maricopa County jail for one count of domestic violence aggravated assault for impeding breathing, a Class 4 felony; and one count of assault with a reckless intent to injure, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

When interviewed by internal investigators, Bradley remained generally consistent with his story but added that he tripped during the argument with his wife, causing him to fall on top of her as she tried to get out of the bedroom. He denied he ever placed his knee on her face or throat or restricted her ability to breathe.

Nevertheless, he resigned from Fort McDowell Tribal Police less than a week after the incident, on August 14.

On November 18, AZPOST contacted the Maricopa County Attorney's Office about the case and was told the office is still reviewing the charges for prosecution and has not yet determined whether they are going to file charges. A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office confirmed for New Times that the case is still under review.

It's not the first time Bradley's wife has accused him of domestic violence. Just two months before the incident that led to Bradley's arrest, his wife told the chief of Fort McDowell Tribal Police that Bradley had physically assaulted her.

She provided photographs of the alleged injuries and set up an appointment for a more in-depth interview. But she declined to cooperate further when police followed up with her, Faust said, and never filed a criminal report.

Internal affairs interviewed Bradley about the incident, and he denied his wife's allegations. He was given a polygraph exam, which Faust said "showed no deception in his denial to causing the injuries."

Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell made a motion to initiate proceedings against Bradley's peace officer certification, meaning the board may decide to revoke his peace officer certification after a review. Decertification means he'd be ineligible to become a police officer again in Arizona. Department of Public Safety director Frank Milstead seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Peace officer certification is also revoked automatically if an officer is convicted of a felony.

Bradley did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

Bradley's father, Francis Bradley Sr., was the chief of Hualapai Police until he retired earlier this year; he's now working as a police officer for Fort McDowell Tribal Police.

Domestic violence at the hands of police officers is not uncommon, and victims are often reluctant to involved in the criminal justice system. In Phoenix, prosecutors have botched police domestic violence cases with deadly results.
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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.