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From Felony to Disorderly Conduct

Aug 27, 2019 | Assault, Police Misconduct

Plea Deal for Cop

A Phoenix police officer was moonlighting as a security guard this past December at a local Walmart store when he says he saw an individual shoplifting. He proceeded to handcuff the suspect, then brought him to the “loss prevention room.” As soon as the suspect is seated, the officer slapped him in the face and punched him, all of which was caught on video. The officer claimed that the suspect resisted arrest, although the video confirmed the suspect’s version of the events.

While the conduct is certainly illegal, you might not think it’s a serious crime to slap a suspect. In some cases, it might not be a major offense. But this suspect was handcuffed when he was struck. That makes a world of difference under the Arizona Criminal Code.

Aggravated Assault in Arizona

When people think of aggravated assault, they usually envision an assault that causes serious physical injury. While that is one possible variation of aggravated assault, there are a number of others, and all of them are felonies.

Under A.R.S. 13-1204A(4), assaulting a person while he or she is bound, or in any other way physically restrained, constitutes aggravated assault. This form of the offense is a class 6 felony, and the felony designation applies even when there is no physical injury.

What makes the case interesting, from our point of view, is the great plea bargain the officer received. Instead of facing a felony, the charge was reduced to disorderly conduct. Instead of facing prison time, the officer was released on unsupervised probation, and must pay restitution. He was also placed on administrative leave.

That’s a pretty good deal, particularly since the same officer was found to have struck a suspect back in 2004, failed to advise his sergeant of the use of force, and violated multiple department policies. For that, the officer received a 20-hour suspension. By the way, in the 2004 case, the victim was also handcuffed at the time he was struck.

When we say it was, from the defense side, a good deal, we are mindful that this is not a suspect’s word against a police officer with an unblemished record. It’s an incident that was caught on tape and bears a striking resemblance to a similar incident in the past involving conduct by that same officer.

Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 280-8028