Phoenix police officer tased and then shot victim

By Associated Press
Thursday, October 14, 2010 14:54 EDT
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Defense lawyer says Phoenix police officer indicted on murder charge in on-duty shooting

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.

Source: AP News

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