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Phoenix police union calling for review board decision to be overturned

PLEA President Ken Crane at podium; PLEA board behind him. (KTAR News/Kathy Cline)
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PHOENIX — A Phoenix police union is pushing for a use-of-force board decision to be overturned because, they argue, it will lead to an officer unfairly losing his job.

“This is not about the union just digging in for a fight,” said Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. “We live in a world of split seconds.”

The March 2017 decision involves an officer who shot a man to death in 2015.

The officer – whom Crane did not name – told investigators a large man was throwing rocks at him and his backup.

Crane said the man, who was later determined to have methamphetamine in his system, acted in a threatening way and the officer had just seconds to react.

During a press conference Wednesday, Crane said he told Police Chief Jeri Williams that the officer “does not even deserve a supervisory counseling. He shot to defend himself, and protect him and that sergeant from a very real, rapidly-unfolding threat.”

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office cleared the officer of wrongdoing; their investigation then went to a use-of-force review board.

They determined the officer had violated several department policies in the incident. However, it’s unclear whether the officer will lose his job.

“Typically, if you’re found out of policy on a use-of-force, you get scheduled for a disciplinary review board,” Crane said. “It’s been over a year.”

The bottom line, Crane said, is Williams must overturn the board’s decision – but she has refused to do so. “I got an email (from her) that said, ‘He should have moved. He should have got out of the way of that rock.’”

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Williams said, “In Phoenix, we welcome the opportunity to self-examine our work.

“We have a use of force and discipline review boards that consist of citizens, peers including sworn officers, supervisors and subject matter experts.

“The purposes of these boards is to conduct an independent administrative review that scrutinizes police situations. These boards are used in addition to other standard internal review processes. I take the recommendations of the boards very seriously.

“While there are times I may not agree with their recommendations and I may request more analysis, I know the Boards make their decisions on extensive review and testimony,” Williams said.


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