The MCSO has released its report on an August 17 incident, during which Glendale resident Richard Malley allegedly pointed an AR-15 at one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies in the desert near Gila Bend.
Following his run-in with MCSO Deputy P. Arend, which could have easily ended in bloodshed, Malley, 49, was arrested for aggravated assault. Later, he was publicly chided by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who said Malley was "lucky he didn't see 30 rounds fired into him."
But under the handle "Doc Garratt" on a Facebook page entitled "Justice for Robert Malley," Malley -- who is unemployed and lives with his mother -- complains that he was wrongly arrested "for flashing my flash light at someone to i. d. them." This, while begging for donations to help with his legal bills.
MCSO's report tells a different story, of course, and mentions that the flashlight in question was attached to the barrel of his AR-15, a fact omitted by Malley, who refers to himself as the "commander" of the "Arizona Special Operations Group," which I'll get to in a moment.
Included in the report is Deputy Arend's account of what happened. He and another deputy were patrolling for drug smugglers on Interstate 8 near Vekol Valley, stopping their car and honking its horn, in hopes of flushing out marijuana mules waiting for a ride.
At mile marker 140, after honking, Arend parked his car and got out on his own to look for signs of foot traffic with his flashlight. Shortly thereafter, Malley confronted Arend in a standoff that almost turned deadly.
I heard an unknown male who was later identified as Richard Malley...yelling commands for me to show my hands. I turned around and looked northwest at a thicket of Palo Verde trees and saw Malley pointing a rifle (AR-15) with a mounted flashlight directly at me blinding me. I verbally identified myself as a Deputy Sheriff several times. Malley continues to order me to show him identification while holding me at gunpoint, while at the same time saying he was with "Arizona Special Operations Group." I gave him commands to show me his identification and once again verbally identified myself as a Deputy Sheriff. After a few seconds he finally lowered his rifle.
As he did the light left my eyes and I was able to clearly identify his rifle as an AR-15. It was later discovered the weapon had a loaded thirty-round magazine with a live round in the chamber and the rifles' selector switch was in the `fire position.' During the confrontation I was in fear of my life believing if I would have met the lethal force with lethal force I would have been shot, due to the fact I was at a disadvantage by him already having his rifle pointed at me and the fact I believed he was [with] another law enforcement agency. I noticed my hands and voice were trembling. I was also confused by his verbal commands `Arizona Special Operations Group' believing at first he was a Law Enforcement Officer from another agency.
Angry, Arend informed Malley that he just committed aggravated assault on a peace officer. Malley replied that he didn't know Arend was a cop. So Arend pointed at the sheriff's patch on his left shoulder.
"[Malley] then told me that didn't prove anything...saying he had patches on his uniform," Arend writes.
Though Arend produced his sheriff's badge and his MCSO identification card, Malley refused to turn over his weapons. By this time, Arend's fellow militia-men Rob "Lil' Dog" Crooks of the Mountain Minutemen (or "Minuteman," as seems more appropriate) and Robert Deatherage, the supposed "captain" of Arizona Special Operations Group, were on the scene.A video, purportedly by Robert Deatherage and the Arizona Special Operations Group
Rather than escalate the situation, Arend waited for backup, which eventually came, with other deputies arresting Malley and disarming the others. Malley lamely tried to rationalize pointing his AR-15 at a cop, telling Arend that they were just "concerned citizens" who wanted to "secure the border."
Arend gave him a tongue-lashing.
"I reminded him the border was eighty miles south," Arend relates. "I also said there was a big difference in observing and reporting illegal activity to law enforcement and actively pursuing and ambushing people in the middle of the desert.
"He said he had the right as a citizen to threaten deadly force and detain prior to arrival of law enforcement. When I asked him what kind of threat I was with a flashlight he could not answer other than saying he thought I was trying to pick up drugs. When I asked him where the drugs were, he was not able to answer my question other than to say, `dude you are making a [big] deal out of this, it was a mistake.'"
Toward the end of the report, Arend states that the group had called the Border Patrol to report suspected drug smugglers using flashlights. The Border Patrol told the militia members that drug smugglers would not use flashlights because they don't want to give away their location.
And yet, the "Justice for Richard Malley" Facebook page has a photo of Deatherage and Malley apparently interacting with the Border Patrol.
Indeed, Malley gripes to another deputy that the militia guys "were only out here to help, and Border Patrol treated them nicer and appreciated them..."
No doubt. When neo-Nazi baby-killer J.T. Ready was alive and patrolling the desert with other extremists, I often complained that the Border Patrol was cooperating with Ready's heavily armed contingent, taking custody of migrants held by Ready's group or the occasional drug stash Ready came across.
As if the MCSO report were not disturbing enough, there's also a fundraising site online for Arizona Special Operations Group, featuring a video made up of stills of dead bodies, Border Patrol vehicles and Sunday soldiers.
"My name is Rob, I am Captain of ASOG, and part of a special operations unit that works on the Arizona/Mexico border," reads a pitch to possible donors, purportedly authored by Deatherage. "All of us at ASOG are Military vets, Air Force, Army, Navy. We are fighting multiple drug cartels and human smugglers out here on our own dime trying to keep this poison off our streets and out of our kids schools.
"I am taking a huge risk even being on here in an open forum, but i really have nowhere else to turn to. There is a war going on down here on our own soil that gets absolutely no media attention whatsoever and I'm here seeking help from like minded Patriots of America to help out for the cause."
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Interestingly, as I write this, there is chatter on Facebook to the effect that Malley's pal Crooks -- a longtime anti-immigrant activist whose participation in such patrols goes back almost a decade -- has gone missing in the desert. Crooks' last blog post was September 21, and several of his pals are supposedly out looking for him.
You'll remember that Crooks is the guy responsible for a couple of hoax videos that claimed to be nightvision footage of migrants being shot at by minutemen.Crooks later took responsibility for the videos and said the footage was concocted by him and his friends.
If I learn more about Crooks' whereabouts, I'll update this report.
UPDATE 5:06 PM: Crooks has posted to his Facebook page, noting a piece by our pal Morgan Loew at CBS 5. Seems Loew went undercover with Crooks' group. Not the first time Loew has exposed the minutemen. Looking forward to watching Loew's report on this nutcase tonight.