Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Police Say Officer Assaulted, Killed Unarmed Man

From KPHO

Officer Shot Dog, Sprayed and Tasered Man, Police Say

The Phoenix Police Department arrested one of its own officers on charges of assault with a deadly weapon following the shooting death of a 29-year-old man.
Richard Chrisman, 36, a nine-year veteran of the force, shot and killed the man after holding a gun to his temple and yelling at him, deploying a Taser on him, hitting him in the eyes with pepper spray, and killing his dog, according to the police report.
Chrisman and Officer Sergio Virgillo were called out to a domestic fight between a mother and son near Third Street and Central Avenue on Tuesday.Police said the son, Danny Rodriguez, 29, was committing criminal damage inside his mother's trailer when they arrived. The mother said Rodriguez had argued with her, damaged her property, and that she left because she was afraid he would assault her, according to the police report.
The report outlines this series of events:
The officers went to the trailer upon the mother's request and Chrisman entered to speak with Rodriguez. Virgillo was behind Chrisman.
Rodriguez entered the living room and began telling the officers, specifically Chrisman, they had no right to be in the trailer and they needed a warrant or would need to leave.
A verbal exchange began and Chrisman placed the muzzle of his pistol against Rodriguez's temple, saying, "I don't need no warrant, (expletive)."
Virgillo said there was no threat being made toward either officer and that he didn't know why Chrisman would have placed his gun against Rodriguez's temple.
Chrisman then returned his pistol to his holster. He tried to grab Rodriguez's arms in an attempt to detain him and Virgillo attempted to assist. The two officers were unable to restrain Rodriguez.
Chrisman used his Taser on Rodriguez, who dropped to the floor. Chrisman knelt by Rodrigez, but when the Taser deployment ended they both stood up.
Virgillo then used his taser on Rodriguez, but when the taser ended Rodrigez pulled the probes from his chest.
Chrisman next sprayed Rodriguez in the eyes with pepper spray from about 1 foot away. He also pulled his pistol and shot a pit bull that was in the living room.
Virgillo said in the follow-up report that the dog had been barking but had not tried to attack either of the officers.
Rodriguez began arguing with Chrisman about why he shot the dog. Rodriguez said he wanted to leave on his bicycle. Chrisman and Rodriguez became involved in a physical confrontation from across the bicycle's frame.
The struggle continued between the two until Chrisman drew his pistol again, raised it upward toward Rodriguez and shot him from a distance of about 2 to 3 feet as he was standing on the other side of the bicycle.
Virgillo later said he believed more than one shot was fired. He said both he and Rodriguez took a step back when Chrisman drew his gun.
Virgillo also said he did not feel threatened to the point of using a gun, and that at no time did he see a weapon in Rodriguez's hands.
Chrisman has not made a statement since being advised of his Miranda rights.

Update October 14, 2010 12:35pm - The following article is by Bob Christie, The Associated Press:

Lawyer: Phoenix police officer charged with murder

A Phoenix police officer has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge for the on-duty shooting of a suspect, his lawyer said Thursday.
Officer Richard Chrisman was served a summons on the indictment, attorney Craig Mehrens said. The indictment also charged him with aggravated assault and misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
He had been previously charged with aggravated assault but remains free on bail.
Chrisman allegedly pulled his pistol, put it against 29-year-old Danny Frank Rodriguez's head and told him he didn't need a warrant when Rodriguez ordered him out of his house on Oct. 5. Over the next few minutes, Chrisman shocked Rodriguez with a stun gun, shot his pit bull, then finally fatally shot Rodriguez, according to a court document.
Records show another officer told investigators he saw no reason for Chrisman to shoot.
Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley called a press conference to discuss the case for late Thursday morning. Arraignment is set for Oct. 21.
Mehrens said his client was justified in shooting Rodriguez and did not put his gun against his head as another officer reportedly said.
Chrisman, 36, and officer Sergio Virgillo had been called to a south Phoenix mobile home by Rodriguez's mother, according to a court document. Elvira Fernandez told the officers she had been arguing with her son, that he had damaged property inside the trailer and that she left because she was afraid he would assault her.
When the officers entered the home, Rodriguez asked to see a warrant, at which point Chrisman put his pistol against his head and told him he didn't need a warrant, the document said.
A police probable cause statement showed that the two officers then had difficulty controlling Rodriguez, with both firing their stun guns on the suspect to little effect. Virgillo told investigators that after using the stun guns, Chrisman used pepper spray on Rodriguez and shot a dog that was in the living room.
Virgillo told investigators the dog was not threatening them and he saw no reason why Chrisman would shoot it. The suspect asked why Chrisman had shot his dog, and Virgillo said he tried to calm Rodriguez down and talk him into coming outside.
The police document said Rodriguez told the officers he was leaving with his bicycle, but Virgillo moved to block the door and Chrisman began struggling with Rodriguez over the handlebars.
Chrisman then allegedly pulled out his handgun and shot Rodriguez more than once. Rodriguez died at the scene.
Chrisman was arrested about five hours after the shooting and was freed on bail the following day.
Mehrens said he and an expert he hired interviews Chrisman for several hours earlier this week. He said he offered to allow him to testify in front of a grand jury, but he never got a response from Romley.
"They didn't want to hear his side of the story," Mehrens said.

Update October 15, 2010 12:44pm - The following article is from KPHO:

Cause Of Death Released In Fatal Shooting

CBS 5 News reporter Donna Rossi just went to the Maricopa County Medical Examiners office and discovered that the medical examiner ruled Danny Frank Rodriguez's death a homicide and that he had multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.
On Thursday, Phoenix police Officer Richard Chrisman was indicted on a second-degree murder charge for the on-duty shooting of Rodriguez during a violent encounter in which he is also accused of shocking Rodriguez with a stun gun and killing his dog.Defense attorney Craig Mehrens said Chrisman was served a summons on the indictment and was not taken into custody.Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said at a news conference that Chrisman will remain free on $150,000 bail. His arraignment is set for Oct. 21.Police said Chrisman allegedly held his pistol against 29-year-old Danny Frank Rodriguez's head and told him he didn't need a warrant when Rodriguez ordered him out of his house on Oct. 5. During the next few minutes, Chrisman shocked Rodriguez with a stun gun, shot his pit bull, then fatally shot Rodriguez, police said.

Update October 21, 2010 9:51am - The following article is from My FOX Phoenix:

Phoenix Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty in Killing

 Phoenix police Officer Richard Chrisman pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and animal cruelty Thursday morning in court.
According to court documents, Chrisman allegedly pulled his pistol, put it against 29-year-old Danny Frank Rodriguez's head and told him he didn't need a warrant when Rodriguez ordered him out of his house on Oct. 5.
Court papers said that during the next few minutes, Chrisman shocked Rodriguez with a stun gun, shot his pit bull, and then fatally shot Rodriguez.
The trial was short, and Chrisman was supported by other officers and friends.
The victim's family was also in court, wearing all black, but they did not speak at the hearing.
Chrisman remains free on bail until his next court appearance on Dec. 6.

Update October 27, 2010 1:05pm - The following article is from KSWT:

Move to fire Phoenix officer blocked

A move to fire a Phoenix police officer charged with murder has been blocked by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.
The Arizona Republic reports the judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking an internal meeting between the department and Officer Richard Chrisman.
The ruling means the department cannot fire Chrisman until the judge can re-evaluate the case.
The 36-year-old Chrisman pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge for the on-duty shooting death of an unarmed suspect Oct. 5 in South Phoenix.
Chrisman allegedly pulled his pistol, put it against Danny Frank Rodriguez's head and told him he didn't need a warrant when Rodriguez ordered him out of his house.
According to court documents, Chrisman shocked Rodriguez with a stun gun, fatally shot his pit bull dog, then fatally shot Rodriguez.

Update November 23, 2010 10:35am - The following article is by Pat McReynolds, KPHO:
 
PD Report Reveals 2 Versions Of Shooting

Investigators Found Knife In Pocket Of Victim Daniel Rodriguez

The final report on the Oct. 5 shooting death of Daniel Rodriguez at the hands of Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman reveals new details and two very different versions of what happened that day.
Chrisman's partner, Officer Sergio Virgillo, said there was no physical confrontation before Chrisman pulled his gun and pressed it to Daniel Rodriguez's head in the moments leading up to the fatal shooting.
An autopsy showed Rodriguez did have a bruise on his temple.
Virgillo told investigators when he saw the gun pointed at Rodriguez's temple, Oct. at 5 that time became "the worst day of my life."
But he had no idea how bad it would get.
Vergillo said he and Chrisman tried to initially grab Rodriguez's arms, but he kept pulling away, according to the report.
So Chrisman pepper-sprayed Rodriguez. When that had little affect, he and Virgillo used a Taser on Rodriguez, the report shows.
Virgillo said he then tried to talk Rodriguez out of the trailer and into his squad car. But Rodriguez wanted to ride his bike to his dad's house.
He tried to roll the bike out the door, but Chrisman stopped him. Virgillo said that Chrisman for no apparent reason shot and killed a pit bull barking about 10 feet away.
And when Rodriguez yelled, "Why did you kill my dog?" he and Chrisman scuffled, tugging at each other with the bicycle in between them. According to Virgillo, Chrisman pulled his gun again. Rodriguez stepped back from his bike and put his hands up, but Chrisman shot him, Virgillo told investigators.
Vergillo said he never saw Rodriguez go for Chrisman's gun or try to use the bike as a weapon.
And when asked by investigators, "At any point did you feel that there was a need to use deadly force?" Virgillo responded, "No."
According to Officer Mark Kincannon, who arrived later at the scene, Chrisman told him they didn't pepper spray or use a Taser on the suspect until after Chrisman shot the aggressive dog.
Chrisman said the dog's death sent Rodriguez into an agitated state, and that during the fight, Rodriguez tried to grab for his gun and throw the bicycle at him.
Chrisman said that's why he shot him.Virgillo states in the report that after the shooting, he and Chrisman cleared the trailer. But according to Kincannon, Chrisman later said the trailer still needed to be cleared.
Chrisman and two officers went back into the trailer, where Rodriguez's body still lay on the floor.
Crime technicians a short time later found a knife and sheath in the Rodriguez's back pocket.

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