As citizens of the United States we live under the concept “innocent until proven guilty.” As police officers for the City of Phoenix we operate under a policy that states, “Officers should keep an open mind for the possibility that the suspect did not commit the crime (Ops Order 4.19.3.C.2.d).” As the Association that represents Phoenix Police Officers, we are tasked with “protecting and securing members’ rights.” These basic tenets coupled with a moral compass drive the direction of PLEA – not the ability to “play hardball.”
This isn’t the first time a police association has faced Mr. Romley’s attack on first responder law enforcement personnel. Perhaps the goal for the County Attorney’s office should not be “the success of this case moving forward” but instead “the success of due process taking place.” The following New Times interview of Mr. Romley is a reminder that campaign endorsements often illustrate one’s priorities. The endorsements of Mr. Romley by PPSLA, Firefighters, and the FOP speak volumes of their commitment to political managers instead of rank-and-file police officers.
CLICK HERE to read the Thursday Nov 18 New Times article.
Listen Now! to hear KFYI talk radio host Mike Broomhead address the issues of witness tampering aired Nov 17, 2010.
The following is a response from Richard Chrisman’s Attorney, Craig Mehrens, regarding the recently published New Times article by Stephen Lemons.
We assume some of you have read Mr. Lemons opinion piece in the New Times [11/17/10]. He is not, nor does he claim to be, a journalist. He writes an “opinion based” column which gives him a lot of liberty. That said, as Senator Patrick Moynihan has said: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” This statement is as applicable to Mr. Lemons as it is to Mr. Romley. Before we get to the inaccuracies, some background. The Form 4 was the first information the Media received about this case. Neither PLEA nor Mr. Mehrens had anything to do with its preparation. Neither PLEA nor Mehrens held a press conference at the indictment of Officer Chrisman. Since then Mr. Romley has been interviewed in person, on camera and off, several times and made many statements about this case. Officer Eric Rude testified at the hearing before Judge Daughton to keep the restraining order in place preventing Jack Harris from firing Officer Chrisman. The next day he was summoned to the County Attorney’s office and grilled for two hours by Alex Femina and Juan Martinez who claimed that his testimony and other relevant evidence was wrong.
Now to the inaccuracies in the article:
- PLEA began planting stories with the media aimed at smearing Virgillo. Not so. PLEA was contacted by the media and attempted to get the “rest of the story” out there to counteract Romley’s and Harris’ publically stated half truths. PLEA’s facts have been published -not one item that has been stated by the media from PLEA is false.
- There is a concerted effort by PLEA to obstruct the success of the case going forward, says Romley. Not true. There is a concerted effort by PLEA to correct the misstatements and half-truths of Romley and Harris so that the public has the complete story, not just their truncated version. It is important for the public to know that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office may have ignored exculpatory information.
- Romley says Dr Lewinski should not have been presented to the Grand Jury because he did not have any police reports or information. This would be a valid point if Mehrens had wanted the County Attorney and the Grand Jury to ONLY hear Dr. Lewinski’s expert opinion. Mehrens wanted them to hear what Officer Chrisman had told him happened that night; the facts of what he did and why he did it. The Grand Jury heard Officer Virgillo’s version, not from Virgillo, but from the investigating officer [as it is always done]. Mehrens was offering up the same testimony.
- Officer Rude is wrong in saying that the County Attorney dictated the Form 4. If Eric Rude is wrong, then Jack Harris is wrong. Rude’s information was gained by him at an informal meeting called by Jack Harris where over 70 Officers were present (First meeting: South Mountain Precinct “SMP” large briefing room 30 officers were present. Second meeting: Neighborhood Resource Center “NRC” 40 officers were present.) when Jack Harris made the statement that the County Attorney at the scene dictated the Form 4. Unfortunately Mr. Lemon has just not done his homework. Mr. Lemon, and, more importantly “triple-checker-Romley” can contact anyone of the 70 officers who attended the two meetings.
- Romley’s spokesperson, Fitzgerald, says Probationer Ted Duffy had nothing to do with presenting the case to the Grand Jury; he just read from a piece of paper and took a seat. Not true. PLEA does not have a copy of the transcript, so we have to trust Mehrens, who does. He has confirmed that absolutely Duffy participated more than just reading a statement. But at least Romley admits Duffy was in the Grand Jury room. Why? Why would Romley, in a case with this high profile; this sensitive; this important; put a lawyer who is on probation for misleading juries anywhere near a case of this magnitude?
- Mehrens and PLEA are actively slamming anyone who opposes or questions them. Not true. This part of Mr. Lemon’s column was apparently written when he was off his meds. As all the above proves, we are just trying to get the complete picture out there. A jury may well hear this case down the line. It would be nice if the jury pool was not tainted.
- THE COUNCILMEN: Two City of Phoenix Councilmen contact Officer Virgillo after the incident to discuss the incident; they contacted a material witness, not PLEA, yet Romley gives them a pass. Clearly, Romley’s intent is to use his power; his clout of office; to fulfill a political agenda, not one of checking into obstruction of justice.