JusThis / Brand of Justice

Saturday, November 9, 2013

One Cop, One Dead Guy, One Dead Dog

This was sent to me from Sun City, a burb of Phoenix. Special thanks to the sender who has heroically served the public for so long.
I highlighted a couple of points here. The officer pointed his gun at the head of a man and told him that was his warrant. Truth is stranger than fiction. In defense of my next book, it's pretty strange but oh so true! I wrote my first two books so we could all peek into the darkside and learn something. C'mon, I'm serious, the rules of engagement have change. They're out there. I guess the men in blue shot an unarmed kid to death yesterday south of what I call 'Normal' in a city park. I'm not kidding here, the rules have changed. Read-Learn & Be Safe Out There!

The Republic | azcentral.comTue Sep 17, 2013 10:37 PM
Former Phoenix police Officer Richard Chrisman will spend at least five years in prison after a jury found him guilty of aggravated assault for pointing his gun at the head of a domestic-violence suspect during a 2010 confrontation that ended with the man’s death.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous agreement on whether Chrisman committed second-degree murder when he shot and killed 29-year-old Danny Frank Rodriguez or whether Chrisman committed animal cruelty when he killed Rodriguez’s dog.

Chrisman will be sentenced after a hearing next month, when Superior Court Judge Warren Granville is scheduled to review a report about Chrisman from the county’s Adult Probation Department.

Sentencing guidelines for aggravated assault allow Granville to give a range of five to 15 years in prison.

Chrisman, a 91/2-year Phoenix police veteran, was ordered to remain in custody until his sentencing. Chrisman broke down as he looked over his left shoulder to say goodbye to his family as he was led out of the courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

The proceeding provided an emotional end to a trial that essentially pitted Chrisman’s version of events against that of his partner on the call, Officer Sergio Virgillo, whose report on what took place inside the south Phoenix trailer on Oct.5, 2010, led to Chrisman’s arrest hours later.

Chrisman said he entered the home after Rodriguez resisted contact and pulled out his duty weapon to encourage Rodriguez to calm his dog. Virgillo’s version of events had Chrisman barging into the trailer after Rodriguez had asked for a warrant, with Chrisman putting his weapon to Rodriguez’s head and responding that the gun served as his warrant.

Rodriguez’s mother, Elvira Fernandez, took the witness stand early Tuesday afternoon when jurors were asked to determine whether Chrisman’s decision to point a gun at the head of Rodriguez caused emotional distress for Rodriguez’s family. 

Fernandez was moved to tears as she described her guilt over calling police that afternoon to report that her son had thrown something against the wall of their trailer and scared her, telling jurors that she thinks every day of her decision to call police.

Fernandez also said that she’d twice attempted suicide since Rodriguez’s death and that his father had two strokes that left him so disfigured he was ashamed to come to the trial of his son’s killer.

“Every day, I wish I was dead,” she said. 

Chrisman’s attorney, Craig Mehrens, used his portion of the proceeding to play Fernandez’s 911 call to police — a decision that left her doubled over with grief on the witness stand — and asked jurors how they could separate Fernandez’s anguish over losing her son from the pain she feels from the assault on her son by Chrisman. 

The panel returned an hour later with the verdict that the assault had caused emotional distress for Rodriguez’s family.

The decision opens a wider sentencing range for Granville, who would have been able to sentence Chrisman to no more than 71/2 years in prison without the jury finding aggravating factors.

Jurors and Chrisman’s defense team declined to speak with the media after the hearing.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery released a statement saying prosecutors would assess the case as they weigh whether to pursue another trial for Chrisman on the animal-cruelty and second-degree murder charges, the latter of which can be refiled at any time.

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