It was brought to my attention some time ago that a friend of mine suffered physical and emotional harm at the hand s of the Mesa Police Department when he was falsely arrested then threatened to have a police working dog turned on him if he moved. What transpired is deplorable. Take your time to read the narrative the read the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution (pay close attention to the 4th). Then ask yourself, Could this happen to me? On a cool evening in early March of 2006 G decided to go for run. He was an avid runner who logged in at least 35-40 miles a week. G left his house at approximately 7:15pm that evening for a simple five mile run. He was sporting a blue pair of running pants with white stripes down the side of the legs, gray trail running shoes, and a blue running jacked. G equipped himself with his portable music device as he likes to listen to music while engaged in this activity. This was his time he set aside to unwind from a busy workday. This particular run takes him about 45 minutes. Upon reaching his half way mark G's right calve started to cramp. He stopped his run to massage the tight muscle and to stretch. After the muscle loosened up and he completed his stretch G began his run home. At some point while G began his run home two men entered the Kohl's Department Store near McKellips and Recker Road. While there they decided to steel a pair of tennis shoes and some pants. One of the thieves ran from the store with a trail of hysterical employees after him. They lost him in the dark. In the meantime Kohl's employee Andy McGrabb decides play hero and runs into the dark after the dastardly thief. Now Mr. McGrabb never saw the thief, was not on the store floor when the crime was committed, and did not have a suspect description. He just blandly ran into the dark. One of the store employees called the Mesa Police and reported a shoplifting. The police promptly responded. Officer Victor Tapia, a rookie cop, was on the scene. Well what transpired then is a little fuzzy. The police reports don't indicate that Officer Tapia ensured everyone was alright, that he got a suspect description, and direction and mode of travel. I would assume he did as Mesa Police from near and far descended on the area. They even called out a helicopter to find the shoplifter. As this drama was unfolding G was running. To his front and to the left he saw someone jogging in the same direction as he was. G thought it was a little odd because the jogger was dressed in casual business attire. G then moved to the other side of the road and passed the jogger. G looked back and noticed the jogger approaching a female. It appeared as the two knew each other. What G did not know was that the jogger was self proclaimed hero and crime fighter Andy McGrabb and the McGrabb had yelled at him to stop. Of course G didn't hear him because he was listening to music and enjoying his run. G didn't know that the female McGrabb was approaching was a stranger and McGrabb asked if he could use her cell phone. In a panic, and while trying to keep up with G, McGrabb phoned the Mesa Police Department. He identified himself as a Kohl's employee who was chasing the thief (now remember this super sleuth had no idea who the thief was or what he looked like so he figured the first person he saw running was the criminal). Officer Tapia appeared and made contact with McGrabb. At this time McGrabb pointed at G and told Officer Tapia that G was thief. Officer Tapia then came up behind G, who was running down the sidewalk of a major street illuminated by streetlights. McGrabb was not far behind. Officer Tapia then turned on his emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop on the running citizen. G Stopped and took out his ear phones. Officer Tapia walked up to G and immediately patted him down for weapons. McGrabb was standing in the background. G asked Officer Tapia what was going on. Officer Tapia stated he was checking something out. Officer Tapia ordered G to sit in the gutter with his legs crossed, hands on his knees, with his palms facing up. G complied. Shortly then another police unit arrived at the scene. Enter Officer Ronald Swart and his police canine Talon. Officer Swart approached G with his canine. Officer Swart held the canine approximately two feet from G's face. Officer Swart then yelled at G, You may be a runner but my dog can run faster than you ever could. That dog barked a snarled at and appeared menacing as G sat there wondering what was going on. Officer then began to question G. However, with the dog snarling and barking Officer Tapia had to bend over to hear G's response. Officer Tapia asked G if he had any identification. G reached for his top pocket at which time Swart yelled, Watch those hands. At this time G realized a bad situation was getting worse. He knew if he moved he would be subdued by a police canine or by one or both officers. G knew he was not free to leave and was under arrest (look up the definition of arrest). McGrabb approached both police officers and told them he had made a mistake and G was not the thief. He also told them he did not see the criminal act or the thief, nor did he have a description of the thief. After threatening G with his police canine, Officer Swart abruptly left the scene. He left his fellow Officer alone with G and super sleuth McGrabb. Shortly after Officer Swart's departure Officer Tapia heard a call over his radio. At this time he ordered G to turn around and put his hands behind his back. G was handcuffed and forced into the back of patrol car where he locked in and could not get out. As G was being handcuffed and forced into the back seat of the patrol car, McGrabb realized the gravity and seriousness of the situation he had caused and began to apologize to G. This made no difference to Officer Tapia. He was intent on keeping G under arrest. Officer Tapia left the scene with G cuffed and in the back seat of the locked police car. G then realized Officer Tapia was responding to an emergency call with him cuffed in the back seat. Tapia then stopped the patrol car, turned to G and asked, Hey your familiar with the area do you know where Somerset is? G told Officer Tapia Somerset was just to his right. Officer Tapia the took the most indirect route to the scene as he navigated through the East Mesa neighborhood with G cuffed in the back seat of his patrol car. Upon arrival at the scene, G observed at least 10 police officers with guns drawn, numerous police cars, and Officer Swart with his gun pointed at a person laying down in someone's front yard. Officer Tapia exited his police car with his service weapon drawn and pointed in the direction of the individual laying on the ground. Mesa PD's helicopter was now lighting up the area. After some questioning and identifying it was determined that the subject laying in the front yard was the dastardly thief who stole some shoes and a pair of pants from Kohl's department store. After taking the suspect into custody Officer Tapia went to his patrol car and ordered G out of the back seat. Still cuffed, Officer Tapia paraded G in front of a crowd that had gathered to observe the swift and sure actions of the Mesa Police. While Officer Tapia stood guard over G another officer brought an eye witness up to officer Tapia and G. The eye witness stated G wasn't the thief and had never seen him before. Officer Tapia then took the cuffs off of G. Officer Tapia then ordered G back into the back of the police vehicle and locked the door. Officer Tapia then walked over to some other police officers who were gathered in the middle of the road. During this time G remained in the police car wondering what was going to happen next. Officer Tapia then ordered G out of the police car and said. Your free to leave this was a case of mistaken identity. I guess this is what you call an investigation detention? G left the scene through the curious crowd. . He walked past what appeared to be the on scene supervisor who said to him, So you didn't have anything do with any of this ehh? He walked past super sleuth McGrabb. G kept his head down until he got to the main road he had been running on about an hour and a half earlier but about one mile from where he was stopped. G ran home. When G got home his wife was worried. She was about to go look for him. She asked how his run was. G responded the run was good until the police kidnapped me. He then told his wife about what had happened. G reported the incident to his employer as required and subjected to an internal investigation by his employer. G then went to the Mesa Police Department and requested a copy of the police report. G was shocked at what he discovered. The reports were incomplete and there were obvious omissions. No mention of the dog. In fact Officer Swart insinuates he never got out of his car. There was one glaring thing standing out in the report and later proved in court during the subsequent law suit. G is a 50 year old Caucasian male who is only 5'5 and weighs about 180 pounds is bald, and was wearing blue running gear. The suspect is a 23 year old Hispanic male, 5'8, 135 pounds and was wearing kaki pants, and hooded jacket and a checkered shirt. It was later learned that the police had the suspect description but decided to peruse G based on the hysterical rantings of super sleuth McGrabb. Additionally, even after McGrabb recanted and said G was not the thief the police still pursued G, arrested him, threatened to turn a dog loose on him, handcuffed him, well you know the story. Now this is just the beginning of the story. For the next year and a half G was thrust into a struggle to seek out justice and force those who victimized him to face the consequences. G contacted the City of Mesa Mayor, City Manager, and Police Chief and informed them of what had transpired. It fell on deaf ears. G wasn't one to just let things go. He was a seasoned investigator and former police officer with close to 30 years of US Government service. G contacted an attorney and sued Kohl's and the City of Mesa. The City of Mesa appointed Asst City Attorney Jacqueline Jeffrey to defend the City of Mesa and the police Department. G thought he would meet some professionalism from the City of Mesa. He figured maybe Ms. Jeffrey would advise the City that they had made a mistake. G thought that maybe the City would use this as an opportunity to identify a problem within the police department and take actions needed to correct it so it doesn't happen again. He thought that maybe the 4th Amendment of the United Sates Constitution and the US Constitution would be held in some sort of esteem by the City of Mesa and Ms. Jeffrey. Well none of this happened.
The law suit continued for about 1.5 years. Ms. Jeffrey set the tempo with G by treating him with disrespect. She figured G would back down if clobbered him with a barrage personal attacks. G refused to back down. G knew Ms. Jeffrey had taken an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Instead Ms. Jeffrey was defended the violation of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. The law suit continued. Kohl's was blaming the police and the police were blaming Kohl's. And for some reason Ms. Jeffrey felt G should be treated differently because of his law enforcement affiliation. During the law suit Officer Swart was noticeably invisible. Officer Tapia testified that he did not remember Officer Swart being at the scene. Officer Tapia sated he conducted a Terry Stop on G. If you look up Terry v. Ohio you'll see that the requirements to conduct such a stop require the officer to have reason to believe the subject is armed and has, is or is about to commit a felony. Ms. Jeffrey then wanted to settle. She wanted to settle for $5,000.00. Ms. Jeffrey said that was the amount she could offer without approval from the City council. G realized then where she stood on the food chain in the City of Mesa government. The case went to arbitration. Ms. Jeffrey was nervous as was her witness, officer Tapia. Ms. Jeffrey's case fell apart in arbitration. Her witness did not know what the definition of an arrest was. He thought you had to have probable cause to make an arrest. It's simple; an arrest is complete when the subject feels he is no longer free to leave. So, you need probable cause to make a lawful arrest. Officer Tapia testified he arrested G because he did not know what he had. Officer Tapia then testified that if he had to do it over he would have not done what he had done. Ms. Jeffrey went gray. The arbitrator and other attorneys looked over their glasses in astonishment.
It seems as though G was confronted that night with a group of people who made bad choices and acted on impulse. Why the police kept after G is unknown. But, it's probably a case a rookie police officer who didn't know how to do his job and a seasoned police officer who takes pleasure in controlling people with threats just because he can. After that night G was confronted with childish rhetoric and name calling delivered by Ms. Jeffrey in the name of the City of Mesa. The case was finally settled. Kohl's got off Scott free, although they were a major player in this tragic comedy. City of Mesa was found 100% responsible. G went home. After hearing this I realize how important it is to stand up for your rights. Anyone in the United States should be able to go freely about their lawful business with fear of being stop, questioned, detained or arrested by government agents. It's deplorable that this happened. It's deplorable that a law abiding citizen who serves the US Government was subjected to this and without a simple apology. What happened in this case is an injustice to all those who serve and have given their lives to preserve American values and to protect its Constitution. Shame on Ms. Jeffrey, the Mesa Police, and the City of Mesa for this despicable and cowardly action.
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