Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio vs. Salvador Reza: MCSO's Probable Cause Statement Indicates, Um, No Probable Cause (w/Update)

Update: Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said during a press conference today that he agrees there was no probable cause for Reza's arrest, and that the charge against Reza from July 30 will be dropped. Please see my colleague James King's report, here. 

Yesterday, I obtained the "probable cause statement" in the false arrest of Phoenix civil rights leader Salvador Reza -- a summary both the county prosecutor and night court Commissioner Julia Lopez reviewed early Saturday morning during Reza's initial appearance.

Ironically, they found in it no probable cause for Reza's abduction by a group of MCSO thugs on Friday, July 30.

The statement itself notes that Reza was not part of the group of eleven activists who blocked the entrance to the command post for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's latest illegal immigrant dragnet. The post was located near the MCSO's "training center entrance" on 35th Avenue, near Lower Buckeye.

Reza was standing "directly west of the training center entrance on the west side of 35th Ave.," according to the document.

That is, he was across the street in a parking lot, separated from the training center entrance by a busy, four lane avenue.

But that wasn't far enough away to keep the MCSO from ginning something up on Reza and sending over a pack of SWAT goons to nab him. (You can see video of this outrageous incident, here.)

The probable cause statement, typed out by one J. Clapper (serial number 1660), repeated one of Reza's release conditions from the night before, after he'd been arrested with several other protesters during an act of civil disobedience outside Arpaio's Fourth Avenue Jail on July 29.

"The defendant is not to initiate contact of any nature with the alleged victim(s) and/or complainant, including arresting officers," the requirement reads.

But Reza didn't initiate contact with MCSO deputies. The deputies initiated contact with him.

Which is likely why both the prosecutor and Commissioner Lopez agreed there was no probable cause detailed in MCSO's account. 

(The official charge was "interfering with judicial proceedings," A.R.S.13-2810 A2, specifically, disobeying a "mandate of the court.")

Reza was released on his own recognizance. Lopez declined to dismiss the charges, cautiously wondering if there was something not mentioned in the rationale for arrest.

If the prosecutor had asked for bond, he would have had to demonstrate probable cause. But since he was agreeing to let Reza go, it wasn't an issue. At least not at the initial appearance.

Still, the prosecutor told Lopez that, "I did not see that this rose to the level of probable cause."

The MCSO statement also explains, weakly, that because SWAT team Captain David Letourneau was on the scene for the July 29 arrests of Reza and others, and because Letourneau was across 35th Avenue from where Reza was on July 30, "the decision was made to take Mr. Reza into custody for violation of his terms of release."

Thus, the MCSO racks up yet another false arrest, like so many false arrests heretofore, false arrests that have cost the county beaucoup bucks in lawsuit settlements. And yes, you can expect that Reza will be suing the county for this Third World police state move by the MCSO.

See, violating people's civil rights costs cash. Last time New Times counted up the cost of lawsuit payouts directly attributable to Arpaio's malfeasance, it came to around $43 million. And that was a couple of years ago.

The voters of Maricopa County don't seem to care about this, though. It's the price we all pay for the notorious Joe show.