Yet another Phoenix police officer has been fired. Marcos Rodriguez is the fifth Phoenix police officer to be terminated over high-profile misconduct incidents since August.
Rodriguez has been accused in a federal lawsuit of stalking a woman and making unwanted sexual advances.
He was fired on October 16, Phoenix police spokesperson Sergeant Tommy Thompson told Phoenix New Times. Thompson said he was "unable to provide any additional information, because the appellate process is still ongoing."
The accusations against Rodriguez drew attention in May after New Times wrote extensively about the lawsuit filed against the officer. Then, in October, the Phoenix City Council approved a $125,000 settlement to the woman who said the officer stalked her, showed up at her house uninvited, made unwanted sexual advances, and pointed a gun at her head.
After New Times published a story about the woman's claims, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department confirmed that Rodriguez had been placed on administrative leave and was under investigation by the department's Professional Standards Bureau.
News of Rodriguez's firing comes weeks after Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced at a press conference that she had fired two officers following investigations into incidents that attracted national attention.
On October 22, Williams said she had terminated Christopher Meyer, the officer whose threats to shoot an unarmed black man in the head for allegedly shoplifting went viral in June. Williams also said she had fired Clinton Swick for making a series of offensive Facebook posts berating Muslims and encouraging violence against protesters.
That same week, Phoenix police fired Sergeant Beau Jones for reasons that still have not been disclosed. Jones remains under criminal investigation. He used to work for the drug interdiction squad and has been sued four times in federal court. In lawsuits, Jones has been accused of beating civilians, threatening witnesses, wrongfully seizing money in a drug bust, and abusing a female co-worker whom he said he wanted to rape and allegedly called a "cum dumpster." All four lawsuits were settled.
Another former officer, Tim Baiardi, was fired in August for slapping a handcuffed man in the face.
In the lawsuit against the latest fired officer, Rodriguez, a woman alleges that on August 26, 2018, she was on her way to the grocery store when a Phoenix police vehicle abruptly pulled out onto the road, causing her to swerve into the next lane.
The woman said that after the police vehicle cut her off and she got back into her lane, the officer pulled up next to her, rolled down the window, and signaled to her to roll down her window as well. He apologized to her; she said it was fine and tried to leave, but he motioned for her to pull over. So she did.
That's when Rodriguez walked over to her car and asked her to get coffee with him, the lawsuit states. The woman declined, but, at Rodriguez's insistence, she gave him her business card. He walked back to his patrol vehicle, and she thought that would be the end of it — until he started texting her.
Around 1 p.m. on August 26, Rodriguez asked the woman if they could talk. Then he told her he was right outside her door. But the woman had never given him her home address.
She opened the front door but left the security screen closed. She asked Rodriguez what he was doing at her home, in uniform and holding the computer from his patrol vehicle.
She let Rodriguez in her house, believing he was there to make a report after almost hitting her car earlier in the day. Rodriguez set his computer on her dining room table and began telling the woman that they ought to be friends, and that she needed a friend like him because he is a police officer and she lives alone.
The woman alleges that Rodriguez began making unwanted sexual advances and asked if he could kiss her. She told him no, noticed his wedding band, and told him it is against her values to have sexual contact with a married man. She says Rodriguez then showed her a picture of his wife and said "she is boring, that his marriage is dead, and there's no passion."
He said he is a passionate man, and allegedly grabbed his genitals through his uniform and asked her, "Don't you want some of this?" Then, he allegedly moved his pelvis toward her and hovered over her as she was seated at the dining room table.
Rodriguez, who had braces, allegedly kept licking his mouth and told the woman he "could teach her how to kiss, as he has passion." Frightened, she told him she had to go to the movies with a friend and that he needed to leave.
Rodriguez asked the woman if she had ever had anal sex, adding that he liked anal sex and "could show her how it's done, as he's the police and can do what he wants to her," the lawsuit states.
When the woman at one point pushed on Rodriguez's chest to get him away from her, she says she hurt her fingers on the vest, and asked what it was that hurt her. He asked her if she wanted to see, then started to unzip his vest. Then, he pulled out a gun.
He said "if a delinquent on the street were to disarm them, he could grab them," the lawsuit states, then demonstrated on the woman by putting his arm around her neck and pointing the gun in her face. She said she was scared of guns and asked him once again to leave her apartment, which he did.
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The woman says in the lawsuit that she has since become anxious and scared for her safety. She says she has since has moved out of her apartment so Rodriguez cannot find her. She is suing the city for violating her civil rights, intentionally inflicting emotional distress, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, and aiding and abetting.
The lawsuit references an investigation, though it's unclear whether it was a criminal investigation or an internal affairs investigation. The woman alleges she is "aware of various tape recordings including ones by defendant [Carmina] Theriault where a confrontation call was attempted." Theriault, as previously reported, was apparently at a police department office the woman visited last year to make her complaint.
Confrontation calls, or controlled phone calls, are a staple of sex crimes investigations, but are not typically part of internal affairs investigations. A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department was unable to say if a criminal investigation is underway or not, and would not identify who is or isn't the subject of a criminal investigation.
While the city has approved a six-figure payout for the woman, city officials in court denied any wrongdoing. The case was settled less than three months after its July 9 filing. The woman's attorney, David Dow, did not respond when asked to comment on the case. New Times is withholding the woman's name as she is allegedly a victim of abuse.