Lawsuit by Ex-Phoenix Cop Whose Case Became Cause Celebre For Police Union Shot Down in Court
In September, 2007, former Phoenix police Officer Mark Wilcox and his wife sued the department and Sergeant Kathy Johnson.
Among other things, the couple claimed that his own department, especially Sergeant Johnson, had violated his civil rights and defamed him
in the aftermath of an October 2004 incident involving a juvenile suspect.
After the suit was filed, Mark Spencer (the Phoenix cop pictured at left) who heads the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association union for rank-and-file officers, issued a press release decriying the "management corruption" inside the PPD that supposedly led to Officer Wilcox's termination.
For the record, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia has tossed out the case, dimissing each of the Wilcox's claims as legally insufficient.
What interests us at first blush is the "factual background" in Judge Murguia's 17-page ruling, issued September 25.
The short version: In October 2004, Officer Wilcox was chasing a juvenile suspect on the streets of Phoenix. Wilcox claimed that the juvie kicked him and escaped, only soon to be nabbed by another cop.
Wilcox charged the kid with aggravated assault for the alleged kick. At trial, however, neither Wilcox nor the other officer showed, and the case was dismissed.
During an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Phoenix PD, a third officer reported that Wilcox demonstrated how he had taken the juvenile's shoe and made an imprint on his own uniform to bolster the aggravated assault charge. That officer said he wasn't sure if Wilcox had been joking at the time.
Sergeant Johnson -- the internal affairs investigator assigned to the case -- preliminarily concluded in early 2006 that Officer Wilcox had violated several departmental rules and regs, including engaging "in unprofessional conduct by committing acts that constitute the elements of felony offenses."
PLEA President Mark Spencer served as Wilcox's union representative.
Wilcox was fired November 28, 2006. The officer appealed.
In March 2007, the city's Civil Service Board reduced his punishment to a 120-hour suspension, finding only that the department had proven (by a preponderance of the evidence) only that Wilcox had no good excuse for having missed the juvenile's court hearing.
Wilcox returned to the job after his reinstatement, but resigned in the summer of 2007 and moved to Missouri, where he is now working as (what else?) a cop.