ARIZONA NEWS

Former Arizona prisons director had tequila in system before standoff, police say

Jan 26, 2022, 5:30 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan had already consumed a half bottle of tequila by the time officers responded to a call nearly three weeks ago at his Tempe home that he had shot himself, according to police reports released Wednesday that offer a new theory on how the former prisons boss was injured.

Police say Ryan, who is accused of pointing a gun at two officers Jan. 6 during a three-hour standoff, slurred his words and was antagonistic to a police negotiator. Police say Ryan didn’t know why officers were at his home or what happened to his injured hand. Ryan also told police that he didn’t remember pointing a gun at officers and acknowledged drinking tequila that evening, though he said he had just two shots.

While police initially said Ryan had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to one of his hands, police now say the injury was caused by a less-than-lethal projectile shot by police after Ryan pointed a handgun at officers. They say the projectile was revealed during surgery.

Police also now say the injury that led Ryan’s wife to call police was a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) cut to his forehead that was likely caused by bullet fragmentation that occurred when an unintentional firearm discharge struck a sink in the bathroom. Police also said Ryan told staff at a hospital that the cut was the result of a fall earlier that week, though the injury looked fresh.

Efforts to seek comment on the police reports on behalf of Ryan, who doesn’t have a published phone number, were unsuccessful. Police previously said Ryan was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.

Ryan’s wife told police that her husband had consumed a half bottle of tequila that day. She told officers that she heard a loud noise and saw that her husband had blood on one of his hands and was bleeding from the head.

She said Ryan didn’t respond when she asked whether he shot himself, according to the reports.

Authorities say officers tried to communicate with Ryan, who remained inside his home. While taking cover behind an open door, Ryan pointed a gun at officers outside, police said. An officer fired a less-than-lethal bean bag round at Ryan’s left hand, which was the only part of his body that was visible to a nearby officer, according to a police report.

Ryan closed the door, continued to refuse to leave his home and later opened the door again, leading to another less-than-lethal round being fired at his left hand. Ryan eventually surrendered, was handcuffed and taken to a hospital.

Ryan hasn’t been booked, even though he was taken into custody.

About 15 guns at Ryan’s home were seized by police.

Police are recommending that prosecutors file felony charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer and unlawful discharge of a firearm against Ryan.

Ryan retired as corrections director in September 2019.

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Former Arizona prisons director had tequila in system before standoff, police say