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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Indicted Cop’s Job Protected – for Now

PHOENIX (CN) - A Phoenix police officer who is charged with second-degree murder was granted a temporary restraining order stopping the city from proceeding with disciplinary proceedings against him. To participate in proceedings that could cost him his job, Richard Chrisman would "be required to waive his Fifth Amendment rights," denying his right to due process, Chrisman claimed. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated assault and cruelty to animals.

Phoenix's Public Safety Manager Jack Harris notified Chrisman on Oct. 14 "that he was possibly being terminated as a police officer based upon that indictment," according to Chrisman's complaint in Maricopa County Court.

The city told Chrisman that he "would be given the opportunity to participate in a pre-deprivation hearing" before the public safety manager.

But Chrisman said the Police Department denied his requests "to either be granted immunity in the pre- and post-disciplinary process or have that process held in abeyance pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings."

Chrisman claimed: "The pre-deprivation hearing and the post-deprivation hearing, in order to be meaningful and provide any opportunity for rescission of the anticipated termination of employment will require that plaintiff provide a statement as in the case of the pre-deprivation hearing or testimony in the case of the post-deprivation hearing."

Chrisman claimed he would be "forced to choose between his job and his Fifth Amendment rights, thereby resulting in an impermissible violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process" if he participated in the disciplinary proceedings.

Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig granted the temporary restraining order and scheduled an injunction hearing for Nov. 9 to determine if the order will remain through Chrisman's criminal trial.

Chrisman is charged with fatally shooting Daniel Rodriguez and a pit bull during a domestic violence call on Oct. 5.

Rodriguez's mother, Elvira Fernandez, had called police, claiming Rodriguez had damaged property inside her mobile home and that she feared he would assault her, according to a police probable cause statement attached to a charging document against Chrisman.

When Chrisman and Officer Sergio Virgillo entered the mobile home, Rodriguez allegedly confronted Chrisman and said he needed a warrant to enter the trailer. Chrisman drew his pistol and placed it against Daniel Rodriguez's head and said, "I don't need no warrant, motherfucker," according to the court document.

Virgillo claimed that "he saw/knew of no reason Officer Chrisman would have pointed/touched the muzzle of his service pistol at Daniel's head. Officer Virgillo stated that there was no threat being made toward either Officer Chrisman or himself," the document states.

Chrisman and Virgillo both fired Tasers at Rodriguez after they were unable to restrain him, and Chrisman used his pepper spray on Rodriguez.

Chrisman then shot a pit bull inside the mobile home. It had been "barking during the incident but had not 'attacked' either Officer Chrisman or Officer Virgillo," Virgillo stated.

Virgillo said in the statement that he tried to "talk down" Rodriguez and "convince him to step outside so they could talk through the incident."

Rodriguez allegedly told the officers that he was going to leave with his bicycle, and Chrisman then struggled with Rodriguez over the bike.

Chrisman then shot Rodriguez more than once from 2 to 3 feet away, the document states. Virgillio said that Rodriguez was not a threat that "would have required him using deadly force."

Chrisman is represented by Michael Napier and Kathryn Baillie, with Napier, Abdo, Coury & Baillie.

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