Our own Idi Amin: Unbelievable! Sheriff Joe Arpaio's now asking the city of Phoenix for public records on travel ("Bird Alert," Stephen Lemons, June 28) when he's refused time and again to turn over public records to New Times despite a state law requiring him to do so?
If I were the city, I'd tell him to go to hell. Or that I'd give him the city's records when he fucking turns over his own travel records to New Times!
Way to pick at a sore spot, Mr. Bird, though, as you stated, the same laws that apply to the rest of us don't apply to slimy SOB Joe. You will never get those travel records out of Joe, unless the judiciary in my former hometown suddenly grows a pair!
Joe has no problem whatsoever applying a law to somebody else that he has no intention of obeying on his own. He truly believes he's a monarch accountable to nobody. The Idi Amin of Maricopa County.
James Mann, Los Angeles
Coloring the whitewash: The Taser stories in your recent editions have been first rate. I got the idea that I was getting real facts about the weapons ("Aftershock!" June 21, and "Death by Electrocutioner," June 28, both by Paul Rubin).
In the first story, you proved that Tasers have been a tool that's beneficial to both police officers and to the people they apprehend. I could see from your research that far more people would've been killed and injured without stun guns. In the second article, you examined one of the few times a person's been Tased to death in Phoenix and, boy, this case was a doozy.
The first article said that, while Tasers were a good thing overall, there have been rogue cops who've abused them, and from what you reported, I'd say the case profiled in "Death by Electrocutioner" is a prime example.
The fact that the Phoenix Police Department saw no reason to discipline these two cops, who were boyfriend and girlfriend, is a sad commentary. An 84-second stun-gunning doesn't happen if somebody doesn't have an ax to grind. You quoted other police officers in the story as saying that such a long Tasing just doesn't make sense, and I'd say they're right.
A case like this should be looked at by the U.S. Attorney's office because it's obvious that local authorities are too busy whitewashing the horrid actions of certain cops to do a proper investigation. It was classic how you portrayed the Phoenix internal affairs office as trying to help the officers cook up legally plausible stories.
Thanks again for being the only publication in Arizona willing to tell the absolute truth about a situation: Tasers have been a useful tool for protecting public safety, but there have been horrid abuses of this weapon, just like all others in the hands of police.
Lynn Bradley, Phoenix
Tasers and the cops who use them: Thanks to Paul Rubin for once again getting to the bottom of a situation that others have been unable to fathom. He rightly points out in his first story that Tasers have saved life and limb overall and highlights in his second a case of absolute police brutality with a Taser.
How the Phoenix Police Department can come to the conclusion that these two cops don't deserve departmental discipline, if not being brought up on charges, is beyond me.
The fact that the family of the victim was able to get a $2 million settlement speaks loudly. In this law-and-order community, police officers seldom are ruled against. And the city must have felt that the victim's family's lawyers had a slam-dunk case to award that much money!
And yet the PPD rules their actions "in policy." Incredible! This is why people have learned over the years to fear and hate cops rather than trust and rely on them.
M.E. Boyle, Phoenix
Right on target: Crime writer Paul Rubin has done it again, with two riveting stories about street cops. The first went against the grain that that all Taser use is bad by saying that use of Tasers is a necessary evil. The second made the point that all weapons are misused, including stun guns, by immoral police.
It's about time somebody in the news media told the truth about stun guns. I'd a hell of a lot rather get stunned than shot in the chest. As your story pointed out, cops are taught to shoot to kill or not fire their weapons at all.
Theresa Johnson, Phoenix
Above the law: After reading the article about the death of Keith Graff, I am appalled. If that had been an average person, not a cop, he would be in prison for involuntary manslaughter. It's quite clear this was revenge; otherwise, what reason did the cops have to be in that apartment?