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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from June 14-16


An end to Phoenix police’s silence over the controversial doll shoplifting case, more issues at Hacienda Healthcare and the continued growth of the Woodbury Fire.

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.

Phoenix police end silence over controversial doll shoplifting case

The Phoenix Police Department on Friday ended its silence about an incident that led to a family’s $10 million claim against the city.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson sent an email with information “being provided for clarification” along with the related incident reports about a shoplifting case involving a doll that sparked a potential lawsuit and internal police investigation.

Thompson also went over the details in an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM. “There is some misinformation that’s out there, and we wanted to make sure they [the community] had the correct information,” he explained.

In addition to Thompson, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams posted a video to Facebook on the incident, saying she was “disturbed by the language and actions of our officer.”

Previously, without providing details, police had acknowledged that the department’s Professional Standards Bureau had launched an investigation into how officers treated the family of four.

Thompson’s description diverged from the account of the family on multiple points, including the date it occurred.

Mayor says she supports Phoenix police chief amid controversy

The mayor of Phoenix says she supports the city’s head of police amid controversy over the way recent use-of-force cases have been handled.

“I do support our chief. We’ve had several incidents that require leadership on her part. She has reacted swiftly and appropriately,” Mayor Kate Gallego told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday.

A community activist called for Chief Jeri Williams to step down this week over an incident where officers threatened to shoot members of a family.

The family accused Phoenix police of battery, unlawful imprisonment and false arrest among other charges and announced Thursday that they are seeking $10 million from the city.

Also on Thursday, a Phoenix police officer accused of punching and kneeing a suspect in a store pleaded not guilty to assault charges.

Last week, Williams called for an investigation after a database of current and former officers’ social media posts was published, revealing posts mocking minority groups and violence against civilians.

Gallego said she doesn’t want to comment on any specific cases before they are fully investigated.

Maggots found under Hacienda Healthcare patient’s bandage

An investigation by the Arizona Department of Health Services is underway following maggots being found under a Hacienda Healthcare patient’s bandage.

Earlier this week, a 28-year-old patient was found to have “several maggots collected beneath his gauze bandage near his stoma incision,” according to a Hacienda spokesperson.

The patient was transported to a local hospital for treatment, Hacienda said in a statement, adding that no other patients with surgical incisions were found to have maggots.

The facility said each resident was put through a “thorough” physical, showing no findings of the insects, and “the leadership team swiftly self-reported the situation to the relevant oversight agencies.”

According to the spokesperson, pest control workers have been through the facility twice in the past 48 hours, and a contractor was in the process of installing doorway blower fans, a deterrent for insects like flies, that could have created the situation.

Hacienda nurse accused of raping woman loses appeal over HIV test

A former nurse charged with raping and impregnating an incapacitated patient at a long-term care center in Phoenix has lost his appeal of a court order requiring a test to determine if he has HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on June 3 declined Nathan Sutherland’s bid to undo the requirement.

Sutherland argues there’s no probable cause to believe he has a sexually transmitted disease.

The test was ordered under a law that says people accused of sexual assault are subject to STD tests.

Prosecutors say the law’s absence of a probable-cause requirement doesn’t violate constitutional protections.

Woodbury Fire nearly triples to 36,000 acres as others blaze Arizona

Fires continue to rage across Arizona with the Woodbury and Tilbury fires burning east of the Valley as fire restrictions have been placed in the Tonto National Forest.

The Woodbury Fire nearly tripled in size from 12,000 acres on Friday to more than 36,400 acres on Saturday due to a weather event called a “dryline.”

A dryline is when two different air masses combine to create high winds, according to authorities. This event caused the rapid and unexpected spread of the fire just five miles northwest of Superior.

The fire was 0% contained as of Sunday evening.

Phoenix man is beating the odds, strives to be the best father

Ernie Ibarra was born with a disability called caudal regression syndrome, causing him to be born without part of his spine. He also can’t walk because of his legs.

“My legs are not long like a normal human being,” he said. “Mine are super short, super small.”

But he’s beating the odds to be the best dad he can be. He has two sons with his wife, and the couple recently took in three kids from his sister-in-law.

The biggest lesson he tries to teach his kids: ignore the bullies.

“I try teaching them always be happy, if someone is bullying you just ignore it,” he said.

He has had to deal with plenty of bullying himself, with people pointing and laughing at him. But he has learned to look past it.

He gets around mostly on his skateboard. He got his first skateboard at age 3 and has been improving his techniques ever since, earning him the nick name “Krazie Legz.”

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