Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams is doing damage control after hundreds of questionable Facebook posts from Phoenix police officers surfaced last week.
The 282 posts from 97 current and former Phoenix cops showed officers frequently referred to black people as "thugs," called for violence against protesters, denounced Muslims as rapists, and joked about refusing to help citizens who criticized the police.
On Wednesday, a Phoenix New Times investigation found four of the officers whose posts were included in the database had also been accused of killing people. While the head of the Phoenix police union dismissed the criticism as a "hunt for negative spin" that failed to mention officers' positive posts, it's far from the only scandal to hit Maricopa County's biggest police department in recent years. Here's a rundown of some of Phoenix PD's worst misconduct:
Richard Chrisman, a nine-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, shot and killed 28-year-old Danny Rodriguez and Rodriguez's dog for no good reason in 2007.
Responding to a 911 call by Rodriguez's mom, Chrisman went haywire when questioned by the suspect, pulling out his gun, putting it to Rodriguez's head and yelling, "I don't need no warrant, motherfucker." The confrontation ended with Rodriguez and his dog dead on the floor. Chrisman's partner, who was at the scene and watched Chrisman murder Rodriguez, testified at the trial. Chrisman received a seven-year prison sentence.
David Barnes, a onetime homicide detective with the Phoenix Police Department who is now under criminal indictment on perjury charges, was fired this afternoon.
Sergeant Trent Crump, a spokesperson for the city agency, said Barnes learned of his termination from a supervisor during an in-person visit to his home.
"Mr. Barnes is no longer an employee of the Phoenix Police Department," Crump says.
Barnes had been on suspension — with pay — for almost exactly a year. (Yes, taxpayers, the guy collected an estimated $65,000 for sitting on his butt as investigations against him proceeded.)
The ex-cop also faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly harassing two of his former colleagues, a supervisor, and the supervisor's wife (a homicide detective).
The Avondale Police Department contacted the Phoenix PD last week to say one of its officers, 23-year-old James Wren, of the Maryvale Precinct, was using traffic stops to steal money from drug dealers.
Avondale police got a tip from an informant who claimed he had conducted two "operations" with Wren where the informant would lead the officer to the cars of drug dealers after a deal had been made.
Wren, according to the informant, would then pull over the car and steal the money.
In one instance, according to court documents acquired by New Times, Wren pulled over a drug dealer, stole his money, and then threw his car keys into the desert before releasing him.
Last night around 10, Wren stopped somebody he thought was a drug dealer who had $40,000 in the car in the 6300 block of West McDowell Road.
The alleged drug dealer was actually an undercover Phoenix police officer.
Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris insisted this afternoon that the Phoenix Police Department is not a "corrupt organization," as he explained the department's role in the investigation of three Phoenix police officers — and one former officer — indicted for fraud.
In total, 25 officers within the department were investigated by the Attorney General's Office for what basically boils down to a time-theft scam. The scam cost several businesses that hired off-duty Phoenix police officers to act as security guards about $16,000. Included in those investigated by the AG's Office are the department's killer cop, Richard Chrisman, and Sergeant Sean Drenth, who was mysteriously found shot to death near the State Capitol last month. (Four Phoenix cops were later indicted for theft.)
According to police, the detective would steal Oxycontin that was scheduled to be destroyed. As if nobody would notice, the detective would replace it with the over-the-counter pain reliever Aleve.
Cops became hip to the detective's scam after conducting a routine audit of stored evidence. They suspect that in total, the detective tampered with 83 evidence bags, and stole about 2,400 pills. Authorities say it's unclear how long the detective's been ripping off evidence rooms, but say the investigation is ongoing.
Police say it's unlikely the tampered evidence will impact any criminal cases because the drugs were scheduled to be destroyed.
The detective was arrested yesterday after handing in his letter of resignation to his superiors. He faces charges of evidence tampering, theft, and drug possession.
In January, Larrison responded to a call about a fight between the 15-year-old and her mother in the parking lot of the Ombudsman Charter School near 40th Street and Thomas Road.
The girl was drinking in school and had become belligerent before assaulting a teacher. Her mother called police and showed up at the school where the two got into a physical altercation in the parking lot, and the mother apparently tried to restrain the girl until police arrived.
When police showed up, the girl started to walk — slowly — away from the officers.
Larrison, seemingly unprovoked, charges the girl, slams her into the side of the building, knocking her off her feet.
Phoenix Police Officer Jeff Gordon, son of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, received a four-day suspension after an internal affairs investigation revealed the junior Gordon was giving and getting oral sex and engaging in other sexual acts on several occasions in 2007 and 2010, while on duty.
Gordon admitted to some incidents, but there are other allegations that remain unresolved, according to police reports.
Among them are that on December 1, 2010, he had nonconsensual sexual contact with a city employee. The allegation is that he slipped his hands under the blouse of a Phoenix employee and actually touched her breasts as he was giving her a massage — while he was on duty — and also sent her two pornographic video texts.
Gordon told investigators that he and the female employee were talking about how stressed out she was, and he started giving her a massage. He admitted that his hands moved from her neck and shoulders to her "upper chest" around her "clavicles" because "he believes it feels good when done to him and would serve as a good de-stressor."
Former Phoenix police officer Christopher Wilson was sentenced to 23 years in prison and a lifetime of probation Monday after pleading guilty last month just moments before his trial was slated to begin.
Wilson, who had served for the Phoenix Police Department for 13 years and also served in the U.S. Navy, acted as the department's community liaison to the Valley's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He was arrested in August 2012 and charged with sex crimes involving minors he had met through the department.
Wilson pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of attempting to commit sexual misconduct with a minor. The victims, a 17-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy, did not attend Wilson's sentencing in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Phoenix police alone arrest an average of about 10 people a day on suspicion of possession of marijuana.
Phoenix police arrested 2,972 adults and 600 juveniles on suspicion of marijuana possession from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. That's nearly 3,600, or about 9.8 a day, each day of the year.
The Phoenix arrest figures show that despite the movement toward freedom for marijuana users seen in states with medical-pot laws, like Arizona, and states in which it's legal for adult use, namely Colorado and Washington, local police are still expending an enormous amount of resources on small pot busts.
Dalin Webb, a Phoenix police lieutenant who works with teens, admitted to Mesa police on Sunday that he may have choked his teenage son during a domestic dispute.
Webb, 41, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault-impeded breathing, a felony, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct-fighting.
Making this case even more egregious: Webb is a police supervisor in the Mountain View precinct who once oversaw the Phoenix School Resource Officer Program.
The father-and-son fight at the Webbs' Mesa home on Sunday started off with a lot of yelling, a booking sheet shows. When the 17-year-old boy's mom came into a bedroom to find out what the "commotion" was about, his dad gave her a good shove out the door, causing her leg to buckle, the boy told police.
The teen "cursed" at his father for pushing his mom. Webb threw him on a bed and pinned him down. Webb choked him by placing two hands around his neck, limiting his breathing, the teen reported.
Jeremy Sweet, 51, has worked for the department's Central Booking Unit for about seven years. On Monday at about noon, he was transporting several prisoners in an unmarked vehicle when he became involved in a "traffic altercation" at about Central Avenue and Lincoln Street, police say.
During the altercation, Sweet is alleged to have pulled out his handgun and pointed it an the occupants of another vehicle. Some of the prisoners in Sweet's vehicle were said to have witnessed the incident. A citizen who also saw what happened called 911 to make a report.
An investigation led to today's arrest, according to Sergeant Trent Crump, Phoenix police spokesman. Crump later told a reporter that Sweet had "lectured" the other driver while pointing his gun.
Police are seeking one count of felony aggravated assault in the case.
Jane was still in the backseat crying when Morris leaned down to remove the handcuffs. He re-cuffed her wrists in front of her body and made her get out of the car to perform oral sex.
Afterward, she spit Morris' semen on the ground and wiped her mouth with her shirt. He told her to get back in the car because he was taking her home.
En route, he "told her to say the computer was down if anyone asks her why she was not taken to jail," according to the police report.?
He parked in front of her house a little after 4 a.m. and uncuffed her.
"Maybe I'll see you around," she remembers him saying as he watched her walk to her front door.
Disgraced former Phoenix police officer Justin LaClere changed his plea this week and admitted he was guilty of both luring a minor for sexual exploitation and then having sexual intercourse with her.
Scottsdale Police arrested 32-year-old LaClere, a seven-year veteran of the force, in January 2014 after receiving information that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl at her house while her parents were out running errands.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, the two met on the social media site Whisper, which allows users to upload pictures anonymously and then privately message one another. On January 13, 2014, the high school girl “uploaded a picture of a baby with the text ‘I want to get pregnant but I’m only a teen’ written across it.”
In the early hours of the morning on September 13, 2016, Castro was driving his BMW through Maryvale when he was pulled over by Phoenix police officers. They found a gun and roughly a gram of marijuana inside his car.
According to the complaint filed in Maricopa County Court, Officer Jason McFadden asked Castro, "Do you want to go home tonight?"
At that point, the lawsuit says, McFadden told him to eat the marijuana or else he would be going to jail.
Castro, who was 19 at the time, also claims in the lawsuit that he tried to record the incident, but McFadden told him that he would get shot if he reached for his phone.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Rumain Brisbon had just pulled into the parking lot of his North Phoenix apartment complex on a December day in 2014 and gotten out of the car when a police officer confronted him.
What happened next is disputed. The Phoenix officer, Mark Rine, has claimed that Brisbon reached for his waistband after being told to put his hands up, then started to run away. A struggle ensued, and Rine, who said that he thought that he felt a gun in Brisbon's pocket, fired two shots in self-defense.
Two witnesses — Brisbon's friend Brandon Dickerson, who'd been sitting in his car, and Dana Klinger, his girlfriend — tell a different story, which was reflected in a lawsuit filed in May 2015. It argued that Rine had no probable cause to detain or arrest Brisbon, who had gone out to pick up food at McDonald's for his girlfriend and their 18-month-old daughter.
Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved a $1.5 million payment to Brisbon's family, settling claims filed on behalf of his mother, girlfriend, and children.
2018: Phoenix police shot a record number of people last year — more people than the NYPD or the LAPD, the two biggest police forces in the country. The high number itself may not constitute misconduct, but reasons for the deadly trend remain unknown in spite of a later study.
The Phoenix Police Department on Friday released an independent report on last year's extraordinary number of officer-involved shootings, which more than doubled the 2017 number and ranked among the highest in the country.
Those who want a clear answer on why the police shot so many more people will be disappointed.
The report did not point to any definitive cause for the 44 police shootings in 2018 — 23 of which were fatal — but identifies a significant increase in shootings involving armed individuals and people assaulting cops with deadly weapons.