New Phoenix chief says probe of officers’ actions started before arrest video came out
PHOENIX – New Phoenix Interim Police Chief Michael Sullivan said Wednesday the department “acted immediately” after learning about potential officer misconduct during an arrest last week.
The incident inside the QuikTrip at 59th Avenue and Buckeye Road late Thursday gained attention after video of an officer kicking a handcuffed suspect was posted online Saturday.
The suspect, 38-year-old Harry Denman, was being detained after he allegedly shot at a patrol vehicle occupied by two officers outside the convenience store.
“I do want to correct the record,” Sullivan told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “I’ve seen a number of headlines that acted like we reacted to this video.
“We acted immediately upon our investigation when it revealed the things that are out in the public right now and immediately instituted an administrative and criminal investigation.”
Sullivan placed the officers on administrative leave and started investigating after their actions “came to the attention of the department on Friday,” the department said Monday in response to media inquiries.
ABC15 reported that Sullivan invited Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell to view cellphone, body camera and surveillance video of the arrest on Friday.
“I’ll wait for that investigation to be complete and see where we go from there,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “I believe in the process, and we’ll see where that process takes us.”
The incident started when Denman approached the uniformed officers after they left the store and they told him they had to leave for a call. When they were backing out in their patrol vehicle, Denman allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired once at the ground and once at the SUV.
According to the probable cause statement police filed for Denman’s arrest, the bullet went through a mounted spotlight and hit the side of the vehicle.
Denman then went into the store, and the officers followed and took him into custody after an altercation that left the suspect bloodied.
The video posted to Facebook (WARNING: graphic content) on Saturday begins with Denman on his knees and starting to lie down face first. As he’s moving downward with his hands in view, both officers appear to stomp on the back of his head, driving his face into the ground, before cuffing Denman’s hands behind his back. One of the officers kicks him in the back when he rolls onto one side while cuffed.
During the altercation, the officers could be heard asking Denman where the gun was.
The video ends after the officers get Denman onto his feet and walk him out of frame, leaving behind his glasses and hat and splashes of blood on the tile floor.
After the incident, a store clerk told police that Denman put the gun on a counter after he came inside, according to the probable cause statement.
Denman was booked into Maricopa County Jail on multiple counts, including aggravated assault of an officer and resisting arrest. He has a status conference scheduled for Thursday and a preliminary hearing set for Monday.
The box indicating that the suspect was possibly mentally disturbed was checked on the arrest form.