Kevin Rorke, Buckeye Cop, Cleared of Wrongdoing in Black Friday Arrest at Walmart; Suspect Jerald Newman Files Notice of Claim Vs. Town

Town of Buckeye police officer Kevin Rorke has been cleared of wrongdoing in the bloody Black Friday arrest at a Walmart of shoplifting suspect Jerald Newman.

No charges were ever filed against Newman, either.

And now Newman is suing the town, says Buckeye police spokesman Lieutenant Jared Griffiths.

(A Buckeye Risk Management official returned a call after this article was published and told us Newman hasn't yet begun litigation, but has filed a notice of claim against the town in which he demands $500,000. If the town rejects the claim, Newman could sue.)

The Black Friday case made headlines worldwide back in November after Newman was body-slammed by Rorke at the Walmart in front of a stunned crowd of shoppers, some of whom said Rorke had acted with excessive force.

Police accused Newman of trying to hide a video game under his shirt and resisting arrest. Newman, meanwhile, a resident of Fontana, California, who was in town to visit family members, claimed he'd stuck the video game in his waist momentarily while trying to protect his grandson from an unruly mob.

Criminal charges against Newman were submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, then resubmitted after a request for more information, but no legal action has yet been taken against Newman by the prosecutor's office.

Because of the accusations of police brutality, Buckeye officials asked the Arizona Department of Public Safety to review the events.

UPDATE -- Newman's Mesa lawyer, Todd Nolan, tells us on June 22 that DPS sought a charge of aggravated assault against Officer Rorke, but that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office decided not to prosecute. Nolan's still waiting to see that DPS report -- and so are we. We'll get back to you with another update on this...

Rorke returned to full duty on May 17.

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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.