PHOENIX — A Phoenix police officer who committed suicide this month was dismissed from the department because of a DUI arrest and not his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis, the police chief said Wednesday.
“I terminated his employment with the city based on his criminal issue, not the PTSD issue,” Chief Daniel Garcia told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos.
Officer Craig Tiger was arrested and subsequently fired in 2013. He took his own life in early November at his family’s cabin.
Garcia was heavily criticized in the fallout after Tiger’s death. A police union said it would move for a vote of no confidence in the chief. Some claimed Garcia had turned his back on an officer who needed help.
“The decision that Tiger made was not the fault of any officer in this department, of his family, of his ex-wife,” Garcia said. “It was not the fault of the chief of police.
“They (the union) want to run the department. Let’s be very frank. I said earlier: Police unions exist for the well-being of the organization, but not to destroy it.”
Garcia further defended himself, saying he weighed the circumstances and put the safety of the public and other officers over Tiger’s needs. Ultimately, Garcia said Tiger’s actions didn’t give him another option.
“How can we condone that type of behavior from any officer in any agency,” Garcia said, referencing Chandler Police Officer David Payne, who was killed by a drunk driver on Halloween.
Tiger and his union, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, declined to appeal Garcia’s decision.
Tiger was diagnosed with PTSD after his DUI arrest. He was involved in a fatal shooting in 2012.
Garcia said any officer, including Tiger, involved in a shooting is given a minimum three days off on administrative leave and must be cleared by a psychologist to return to active duty. When he was terminated, Garcia also offered him psychological help and other assistance.
After Tiger’s death, Phoenix city leaders said they were planning to analyze the way it handles PTSD cases with employees and possibly make improvements.
“I know we’re going to discover things we didn’t see prior to this,” Garcia said. “We’re going to improve this program.”
Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher asked for a preliminary report into how the city handles PTSD to be completed in the next 90 days.
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