Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley didn't order anyone to interfere with his September 21 arrest in a county parking garage -- and that's according to the deputies who arrested him.
If you'll recall, Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott told us a couple of days after the arrest that Stapley had "ordered his protective-service group to stop the deputies from making the arrest." The claim was more than just fodder for our blog: The Sheriff's Office is apparently using the tale of what you might call attempted resistance of arrest to try to force the county to release a surveillance tape of the arrest that was recorded by a camera in the garage.
The county has so far resisted, somewhat arbitrarily citing concerns that the tape shows where public officials park their vehicles and reveals the location of one of the surveilllance cameras. The county offered the MCSO the chance to view the tape without obtaining a copy -- on Friday, county officials told us the Sheriff's Office has so far declined that invitation.
At least one of our esteemed sources believes that all Hendershott really wants is to get the tape on the nightly news. You never know. But we imagine the sheriff's people would love to nail Stapley with another criminal count, since they've gone to all the trouble of cooking up 93 others. As of this morning, Stapley remains unburdened by any charges, though -- Joe Arpaio's office is still waiting for a couple of East Coast sand-baggers to make a decision based on the "evidence" it's collected.
Back to September 21, in that downtown Phoenix parking garage. According to reports by deputies J. Halverson and J. Kelly of the agency's organized crime division, which were released last week by the Sheriff's Office:
Kelly and Halverson parked their marked patrol car at the northeast corner of Madison and 5th Avenue and waited for Stapley to roll in to work. They knew he was on the way because deputies staking out the supervisor's Mesa home had radioed ahead. They were on the lookout for Stapley's 2009 Bugatti Veylon. Not! The allegedly corrupt elected official, the supposed campaign fund-raider and slush-fund keeper doesn't own a Veylon -- he drives a white Honda passenger car.
Amusingly, Halverson admits in his report that the supervisor gave the crack deputies the slip in his little Honda. Though the deputies claim they had wanted to take Stapley down on 5th Avenue, Stapley made a "quick left-hand turn into the parking garage." Handles the Honda like a regular James Bond, doesn't he? Without a security code, the deputies -- like a couple of rookie private detectives -- were forced to squeeze in behind Stapley's car before the raised gate closed on their car.
We've covered the stop in detail, so we'll fast-forward to the new stuff: Stapley, when approached by the deputies, looked over at a some other people in the garage, including a supervisor for the county's Protective Services Division, and "said loudly, 'Help me.' He then said again, 'Somebody help me.'"
Seems like a natural reaction for anyone when confronted by Arpaio's deputies. Hardly the same as ordering the security officer to stop the arrest. Halverson wrote that the supervisor walked over in "what appeared was an effort to assist" Stapley. Of course, it may have been that the supervisor just wanted a closer look. The deputy told him to back off, and he did -- but not before Stapley yelled after the supervisor to call his lawyer for him.
Both deputies wrote that Stapley resisted being handcuffed. But it's resistance of the most mild kind imaginable. Halverson writes:
I heard and saw Detective Kelly tell Mr. Stapley that he was going to be handcuffed and that he was aware Mr. Stapley had an injury that necessitated Mr. Stapley being handcuffed in the front. I watched Detective Kelly move forward and attempt to handcuff Mr. Stapley two times, with each time Mr. Stapley pushing Detective Kelly's hands away. After seeing Mr. Stapley resisting arrest I then saw Detective Kelly successfully handcuff Mr. Stapley.
And from Kelly's point of view:
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I asked Stapley to bring his hands to the front. He initially refused. I asked him again and as he brought his hands up I reached for his left wrist. Stapley lightly pushed my hand away and pulled his hands back. Stapley asked if he really needed to be handcuffed if he said he would go with us. I told him it was policy. As I reached for Stapley's left wrist he pushed my hand away again. I then took hold of Stapley's left wrist and explained to him that he was going to be handcuffed and that it was policy to do so.
Stapley asked "do you guys really know what you're getting yourselves into?" He then said "this is a political inquisition." He then said "I guess the cameras will be there. That's how you guys work." I responded "I hope not."
Can you believe the naivety of this Detective Kelly? You bet your ass the cameras were there!
It'll be up to the D.C. lawyers to decide whether Stapley's actions during the arrest constitute a crime. While such a move doesn't seem possible to us, the lawyers must feel plenty of pressue to hang something on Stapley. From what we've seen, the evidence for the other potential charges don't seem much stronger.