Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Shooting Last Friday Has Some Local Cops Scratching Their Heads

But we've spoken with about a dozen current and former local cops in the last few days (most of them initiated the contact), and check this out:

When mentioning the highly publicized (and highly charged) incident near the intersection of Interstate 8 and Arizona Route 84 last Friday afternoon, every last one of them brought up the name Franklin Brown.

(Our list of sources did not include Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the gent in the photo.)

Longtime readers of our paper may remember the story we did awhile back on onetime Phoenix Police Officer Brown.

It was entitled  "A Shot in the Dark."

The facts of that case do have some curious similarities with the Pinal County case: Brown claimed that, in the wee hours of July 5, 2000, a Latino flagged down his cruiser in an then-unpopulated area of 95th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.

Brown described how the man knocked him to the ground, and then shot him with a handgun as two accomplices armed with automatic weapons looked on.

Brown said he repelled the trio during a ferocious gunfight that lasted almost 30 minutes--30 minutes!--sustaining minor bullet wounds to his left hand and to his chest in the process.

The events won Brown selection as a "Top Cop" by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) -- the equivalent of an Oscar for police officers--and his own own department's Medal of Valor.

The popular television show America's Most Wanted aired an episode on the case, portraying Brown as heroic.

But Brown's story didn't pass muster (read the attachment if you want to know more), and Phoenix police eventually placed him on administrative leave.

Brown later just left the department without formally getting fired.

NAPO, by the way, rescinded the dude's "Top Cops" award shortly before he was to fly to Washington, D.C., to accept it.

In the story, we quoted Tod Burke, a criminal justice professor at Radford University in Virginia. Burke published a paper titled "Munchausen's Syndrome in Law Enforcement" in a 1992 journal. 

"An officer faced with overwhelming interpersonal stress or threat of loss, creates an incident in which he . . . is the victim and occasionally the hero," wrote Burke, a former cop himself. "The officer creates a situation in which he becomes the focus of sympathy, concern, and care."

Again, we have no evidence at this point that suggests Deputy Puroll is anything but a stellar peace officer.

But, as we say, questions quietly have arisen among some law-enforcement types about the bizarre incident in the desert last Friday afternoon.

We're curious about the shots allegedly fired at police helicopters shortly after the 53-year-old deputy was grazed by one bullet during what he described as a full-scale shootout.

It is said that it took about an hou for backup to locate their slightly wounded comrade.

Come to think of it, the whole thing does sound rather strange, though strange is a way of life these days in the great State of Arizona.

How the deputy survived is beyond us.

We do know this: A battle looms (among media types, not with alleged illegal aliens) local and national for the so-called "get" -- the first interview with Deputy Puroll.

We'll keep an eye on how this one plays out.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin

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