Scottsdale Firefighter Disciplined Over Off-Duty Melee

UPDATE February 15: Scottsdale City Court finally got back to New Times with information about Preslar's case. He pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, but the charge will be dismissed if he completes an anger management course. Beside the fees involved with the course, Preslar must also pay a $190 court fee and remain law-abiding until July 25 or risk reinstatement of prosecution in the case.

A Scottsdale firefighter accused of starting a chaotic fight while off duty has been docked 24 hours at work but avoided a criminal record following a deferred-prosecution deal.

Chad Preslar, 28, was considered a primary instigator in the initial fight after police talked to witnesses and reviewed surveillance video, including the video (below), which was obtained with a public-records' request by New Times.

He and another man were seen squaring off not long after the 2 a.m. closing time of bars in the downtown Scottsdale area, a report states, and a melee resulted as their friends joined in. As can be seen in the video from last August, a large crowd gathered to watch the action or shoot video with their cell phones. North Saddlebag Trail and East Shoeman Lane were shut down temporarily in the "very chaotic" situation, police said.

Bleeding and visibly intoxicated after the fight was broken up, Preslar reportedly told police another man had attacked him after "talking shit," and that his girlfriend, Vanessa Vargas, 30, had tried to intervene. 

Scottsdale police wanted Preslar and three others each charged with obstruction of a public thoroughfare, causing a public nuisance by blocking roadways, and disorderly conduct/fighting. Yet only he and Vargas ultimately were charged with the misdemeanors by the Scottsdale Prosecution Department.

As of last week, court records show, both had agreed to the terms of a deferred-prosecution deal from the office. Representatives of the prosecutor's office and city court could not immediately say what those terms are, but typically they involve a fine and community hours. Once the terms are completed in such cases, charges are dropped.

Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon, who previously determined that Preslar's actions didn't merit termination, wrote in a letter dated Monday to Preslar that the off-duty brawl was "in direct conflict with the expectations of a Scottsdale firefighter."

The 24-hour reduction in pay was because of a violation of Scottsdale city code that prohibits employees from doing things that cause, or could cause, discredit to the city, or cause a "significant loss of trust or confidence," Shannon states in the letter, which he released to New Times.

The internal investigation also found that Preslar "knowingly and intentionally engaged in behavior which violates the city's stated values."

However, in a separate statement, Shannon tells New Times, "I am confident that Firefighter Preslar will continue to be an outstanding contributor to this organization and has learned from this incident."

According to a June 2012 article in the Scottsdale Independent, Preslar was one of eight recruits who managed to secure a spot in the department out of about 1,500 candidates. 

Watch Downtown Scottsdale Melee Shut Down Streets from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern