Phoenix Cop Arrested for Sexually Exploiting a Minor

Hours after Phoenix police Officer Richard Tucker was released from jail for a domestic-violence charge against his wife, he was arrested again and booked into jail on eight counts of alleged sexual exploitation of a minor over whom he had partial custody, police say.

The timeline of events is confusing and involves multiple unnamed people, but by piecing together various court and police documents, here’s an account of what happened:

Court documents show that the troubles began late last week when Tucker and his ex-wife had an argument about their shared-custody arrangement for the female minor— at this time, police say, they cannot confirm that the minor was his daughter, only that Tucker and his ex-wife had 50/50 custody of her.

Tucker’s current wife told police that her husband planned to end the ongoing battle by signing over full custody but that when they met on November 3 to discuss the situation, they only ended up arguing.

(As is noted in court documents, Tucker’s wife also told police that her husband and the girl did not have a good relationship and that the girl had told her she was afraid of him and cried whenever she had to be alone with him.)

The next morning, when Tucker’s wife woke up her husband so he could speak to his lawyer about the custody paperwork, “he grabbed [her] from behind by putting his arm around her neck and restricting her breathing,” the probable-cause statement from his subsequent arrest states.

Tucker “then threw [her] onto the bed and grabbed her neck with his hands, again restricting her breathing.”

Police say this account is corroborated by a witness, presumably one of the three children who also lived in the house.

It’s unclear who called 911, but police say “the initial 911 operator could only hear an open phone line with a female in the background either saying ‘can’t breathe’ or telling someone just to leave.”

When police arrived at the house, they found a “visibly upset” domestic-violence victim wearing torn clothing.

Though Tucker was arrested and booked on one count of aggravated assault and one count of criminal damage, his trouble with the law was far from over.

Tucker’s wife told police that after he was arrested, she was furious and began packing up his things. As she was removing several boxes that belonged to him from a high shelf, one fell to the ground, and developed photographs and several envelopes containing photographs spilled onto the floor.

Upon opening one of the envelopes, court documents state, Tucker’s wife found “26 images of small prepubescent Asian female whom she immediately identified as a child known to her and Richard.”

The little girl was 3 at the time the photographs were taken.

Court documents describe some of the disturbing images:
Tucker’s wife took pictures of the photographs with her phone so she could e-mail them to Tucker’s ex-wife and then brought the box of pictures to the Family Advocacy Center. The Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children's Task Force began investigating the situation, court documents state.

After obtaining a search warrant, the task force officers found other incriminating evidence — a journal belonging to Tucker detailing some of the calls he had made as a police officer:
His cell phone also had pictures from 2014 in which he and the minor — who was 12 at the time — stood together in a bathroom. Court documents state that “[she] had no clothes on and her face was painted white with an unknown substance. Next to her was Richard Tucker, and he was wearing no shirt but his waist was not visible to know if he was clothed below the waistline.”

When police interviewed the girl, she confirmed that Tucker had taken the photographs.

“On Friday November 6th, 2015, at around 9:30 p.m., Phoenix Police officer Richard Tucker was arrested just after being released from jail on domestic violence charges,” Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump writes in an e-mail.

He says the investigation is ongoing, and because Tucker remains in jail, “no employment actions have taken place.”

Tucker had been with the PPD for about a year before his arrest. His next court appearance is scheduled for November 17. 

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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser