It was December of last year, just a few days before Christmas. The players were a number of patrons of a Whiskey Row bar in Prescott. Some of those players looked like they were members of an outlaw biker gang – leather jackets with skull and crossbones patches, along with iron crosses. And add one more item – liquor. Specifically, it is alleged that the bikers were drunk.
It wasn’t an outlaw biker gang after all. It was a group of mostly police officers from local police departments (and other law enforcement agencies). What happened next is not entirely clear, although we do know that at least two of the bikers threw punches, and that one of the patrons ended up in the hospital with a broken nose, suffered at the hands of one of them. If that’s as far as it went it wouldn’t be much of a story. Just a group of drunken cops making a bad name for their department. Unfortunately, the investigation by the Prescott officers responding to the scene convinced them that members of the biker group were not being entirely forthright in their explanation of what had occurred. Even more disturbing, there were allegations that higher-ups in the Prescott Valley PD and the Yavapai Sheriff’s Department were also involved in a cover-up of the incident.
The case was ultimately handed over to the Department of Public Safety, which issued a scathing report last week alleging that certain present and former law enforcement officers should be charged with assault, disorderly conduct, false reporting and obstructing a criminal investigation. An example of the alleged false reporting and obstruction claim is the attempt by the officers to portray one of the victims of the assault as a member of a rival biker gang. In fact, there were no facts to support the portrayal. The officers’ shenanigans might have worked, but much of the fracas at the bar was caught on video, the contents of which were confirmed by numerous bar patrons.
The matter has now been referred to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to decide if formal charges will be pursued.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004