Sheriff's Office Plays Dumb On Racial Profiling Investigation

Phil Gordon

By Ray Stern

After Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon accused Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies of racial profiling in an April 4 letter to the U.S. Attorney General, Arpaio "ordered an immediate investigation" into the charge, according to a Sheriff's Office press release.

The newly released report on an allegation of racial profiling involving one of Gordon's aides, Jessica Rodriguez of Buckeye, shows the "investigation" was a sham from the beginning.

At least one racial profiling complaint had been sitting around for anyone to find at the Sheriff''s Office since December. But as the sheriff's latest press release shows, the "investigators" simply filed a highly questionable request for public records with the City of Phoenix and never bothered to check their own files for a complaint until July 16.

Which would seem pretty stupid, unless you look through the lens of politics. Then all the lies begin to make sense. As New Times has chronicled, the Phoenix records request by Arpaio was apparently designed only to embarrass or intimidate Arpaio's political foe, Gordon.

The absurdities surrounding this lawsuit continue today: Sheriff's spokesman Captain Paul Chagolla claims the office still has no knowledge of any reports, citations, or records of any type regarding a second damning allegation of racial profiling detailed in the amended lawsuit filed on July 17.

According to the lawsuit, deputies pulled guns on Manuel Nieto Jr. and his sister Velia Meraz on March 28. You'd think that would have generated an easy-to-find report. Chagolla says the Sheriff's Office is having difficulty finding any records on Nieto or Meraz. That obviously doesn't pass the smell test, especially after what just happened with the records on the racial profiling allegation involving Jessica Rodriguez and her husband, David.

The Sheriff's Office report states that Jim Miller, head of Arpaio's Internal Affairs department, had just found out about the December complaint by Rodriguez on July 21. As mentioned, that's because they had been looking everywhere -- but in their own files. And, yes, that's the same Jim Miller who accosted me at the City of Phoenix records counter, daring me to make a move that would allow him to arrest me, as detailed in my June 11 blog report.

Here's Jim Miller, as I photographed him on June 11, in all his flabbergasted glory.

As we now know, Miller had something better to do that day in June. He could have been looking in his own department for racial profiling complaints.

Gordon told me yesterday he never released Rodriguez's name to Arpaio because he was worried the woman, who lives in an area patrolled by the Sheriff's Office, would become an Arpaio target.

And Arpaio did retaliate, he says, by publishing Rodriguez's name, address, and phone number in the report online. (The Sheriff's Office has since redacted her personal information from the report, perhaps in a sudden attack of conscience.)

"Shame on them," Gordon said yesterday of the sheriff's officials.

Make that a dirty shame.

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