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Phoenix police investigating school district head’s interaction with officer

LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor (Screenshot)

PHOENIX — Phoenix police said Tuesday they are investigating after a school district superintendent told City Council an officer “verbally assaulted” her.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in a statement that the citizen complaint from LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor, head of the Cartwright School District, has been forwarded to the department’s Professional Standards Bureau.

Aguilar-Lawlor said at the council’s Oct. 16 meeting that, two days prior, she had gotten confused at the intersection of Indian School Road and 67th Avenue, where emergency vehicles were blocking traffic.

When she entered the intersection, an officer “pounded” on her window and began screaming at her, she said.

“I was scared. … I did not dare move my hands off the steering wheel,” Aguilar-Lawlor said.

Thompson said the officer stopped Aguilar-Lawlor’s car because she headed straight toward the emergency vehicles and crossed over into the oncoming left turn lane, while other cars had been turning right into a corner store parking lot.

Aguilar-Lawlor said she rolled down her window and apologized, but the officer yelled back that she was not sorry.

Thompson confirmed that Aguilar-Lawlor apologized and the officer told her, “You are not sorry. Don’t tell me you are sorry.” He said the interaction lasted about five seconds.

Aguilar-Lawlor said the officer directed her to make a U-turn. Afterward she pulled over and called her husband, crying.

She then went back to the scene and asked another officer for the badge number of the officer who yelled at her.

Thompson said a sergeant was called to the scene, and he told her that he would investigate her complaint.

When the investigation is complete, Thompson said, body camera footage and other documents will become available.

Aguilar-Lawlor told City Council that the students’ families she works with have also reported negative interactions with Phoenix police, and she asked for officers to be held accountable.

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