Louie Puroll Firing Put in Second Place by Chandler Mall Standoff

The best thing that happened to Louie Puroll and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office yesterday was the standoff out at the Chandler Mall, a made-for-TV incident that put the deputy's firing deep into second place, news-wise.

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Still, by now everyone who follows local news knows Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu fired the range deputy, a turn that not even a fanciful scriptwriter could have conjured.

Babeu's public information officer Tim Gaffney issued a press release that said Puroll's termination stemmed from statements he made to me during interviews for our November 23 story "Whitewash."
 
That piece was a follow-up to "Pinalcchio," our earlier examination of the the deputy's account of allegedly being shot by drug smugglers last April  out in the desert between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.
 
Puroll told me that members of the infamous Mexican drug cartels had attempted to bribe him as he sat in a truck-stop restaurant between Tucson and Phoenix. Just for the record, he sounded to me as serious as the proverbial heart attack when he said it.

The (ex-)deputy also claimed that a buddy of his had offered to murder me because of my less-than-favorable analysis of his account of the celebrated Vekol Valley shooting. 

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Former Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll

When I asked Puroll why in the hell he would be telling me something like that, he told me that he thought I'd just like to know.

I gave Puroll many opportunities in the days after he made that statement to amend or flat-out retract it. But he chose not to, instead saying that his pal "probably" hadn't been serious about the apparently off-the-cuff offer to commit homicide.
 
According to the PCSO press release, Professional Standards Bureau investigators sustained each of the 10 allegations against Puroll, including that the deputy had been "untruthful."
 
We assume that he lied to them during his recent interview, i.e. lying to a reporter may be stupid, but it isn't necessarily against the rules and regs of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. 
 
The release noted that Puroll plans to contest his termination, and that under Arizona law, the agency is barred from releasing the internal-affairs report authored by Detective Rob Evans until appeals are exhausted.

Last April, Puroll said he was shot during an alleged clash in the Vekol Valley, a popular drug and people-smuggling corridor in the desert between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.
 
It happened just one week after Governor Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070--the anti-illegal immigrant legislation--into law.
 
The deputy became a folk hero to many, both in Arizona and nationally, a kind of symbol of everything that's wrong about the federal government's approach to policing the border (even if the clash occurred about 85 miles north of the line).

His softly spoken words to police dispatchers shortly after he called in to say he'd been shot -- "Tell my wife I love her" -- endeared him to many, including his sheriff, whose national profile increased dramatically in the aftermath.
 
Our take on the celebrated shootout poked gaping holes in Louie Puroll's story, and of the less-than-meticulous criminal investigation by his PCSO that followed it.
 
Here is the original story, "Pinalcchio," followed here by "Whitewash," the piece that got former Deputy Puroll into such a pickle.
 
Here is what the Arizona Republic's veteran scribe Dennis Wagner wrote about the Puroll firing on the paper's front page today.
 
Finally, here is what the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson had to say:
 
I enjoyed interviewing Louie Puroll -- he's extremely entertaining -- and I still do believe some of the things he told me.
 
For example, I suspect that he did rescue untold numbers of folks (legal residents of the U.S. and illegal) out in the desert during his long stint as a range deputy.
 
But, man, can that guy tell a whopper!
 
If, as Puroll apparently told the internal affairs investigators, he had been BS-ing me about meeting up with the drug cartel people and about a friend's offer to do me in, he's as good at telling whoppers as anyone I've run up against in 30-plus years of inflicting journalism.
 
That, of course, leads us back to the Vekol Valley, and Puroll's troubling account of being shot by those drug smugglers on that late afternoon last year.
 
I told Puroll this in one of our talks:
 
"Deputy, I wasn't out there that day and so I can't say that I know what happened for sure. But, with all due respect, I know it didn't go down the way you say it did. You know it and I know it."
 
Puroll, who was nothing short of courteous (in his own tough-guy way) during our time together, stared across the table at me, a bit wide-eyed.
 
"No, you weren't there, mister," he replied.
 
Here's my guess, and it's just a guess:
 
Louie Puroll will claim that psychological stresses resulting from the desert "shooting" caused him to lie to me and (apparently) to investigators.
 
I think he will seek a full medical retirement and will be happy to kick back with his animals and wife at home down in Oracle.
 
There, he will regale his pals with great stories about whatever wild yarns pop into his very interesting head.


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13 comments
Rubin bores me
Rubin bores me

Now that Puroll's been fired-- is anyone else getting as bored with this perpetual repetition and rehashing of Paul Rubin's hatred of Mr. Puroll as I am? I'm beginning to wonder if Mr. Rubin doesn't have some mental issues of his own to work on.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

Puroll wouldn't be the one that texted in the million dollar bounty on Arpaio from the Mexican drug cartels would he? That threat has at the very list the same level of credibility as Puroll does.

Bill
Bill

Collins great posting. You should run for sheriff!

JD
JD

@Mr. Rubin,While I could congratulate you on your reporting ability, I wish to ask you to keep your opinions - your guesses - to yourself! Really, if what you are doing is to be called reporting then we don't need your guesses or opinions or whatever. You are to report the facts then that is ALL you do. Not your guesses, not your thoughts and definitely NOT YOUR opinions. It's bad enough that the "rag mag" you work for has little reputation save for those who like left-slanted bias to begin with. And what reputation you have is unsavory to say the least. But then that says plenty about the readership you maintain and your workmanship there. If I wanted left-wing slanted bias garbage I would watch CNN, MSNBC and NPR like the majority of your empty-headed (but so intelligent) elitist community. Good day.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Mr. Rubin, you are very kind with regard to Puroll. In my twenty years of policing I had occasion to work with folks who Puroll reminds me very much of. They were not a pleasure to work with, and even more difficult to supervise. Interestingly, they were very well liked and 'popular' with the troops. But, they were also known within the agency as complete bullshitters whose words could not be trusted.

I would hope that Babeu has learned from this incident and will not trust the spoken word of one of his employees without direct physical evidence to corroborate it. Especially those employees who are known as great story tellers. As Puroll apparently has been.

As a dispatcher on the voice taping said after a cell phone call from Puroll, "what kind of idiot goes out there by himself?". Or something similar...

My question is: What kind of idiot manages a sheriff department where that type of patrol activity is supported by first line supervisors?

Why didn't ANYONE in supervision or management at PCSO know this guy was meeting a reporter after the first article you wrote?

Hey, it doesn't take a mental giant to figure out this guy is a loose cannon. Even I figured that one out based simply on what I read about the conjured Vekol Valley Shootout, aka "The Legend of Louie".

Why isn't the Pinal County Board of Supervisors asking these questions of their sheriff?

What, if anything, was learned from the Vekol Valley debacle by PCSO, and what, if anything, was done to see that it won't happen again?

We don't know. PCSO and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors either aren't being transparent about this OR they simply don't care. I suppose it's better to be apathetic that not care at all, huh?

Maybe the BOS just doesn't want to upset the sheriff by asking questions about their operations. I thought that was part of their role as overseers of all county departments. Has the MCSO experience so frightened members of Supervisory boards to the extent that they are afraid they will experience victimization by Babeu as the BOS did from MCSO/MCAO?

The Puroll incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. It's not likely he's the only loose cannon at PCSO. Based on apparent experiences as seen at MCSO it may be fair to conclude that if they had one Puroll, as MCSO has a Hendershott, there will soon be a team of the same ilk.

I am hoping to one day be able to peruse the internal investigations report and am expecting to see much more in it than PCSO wants the public to know. I fully expect PCSO to take any and all legal steps to see that it's never released. I think we both know why.

Excellent reporting, sir.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

I wonder how soon Puroll will be on Fox "News" to talk about him getting his ass fired, as he was the Fox Darling back in April! I'm sure that Fox is "fair and balanced" (they tell me so!), so as the fine journalists they are, they should give this event the same coverage as the "event" in April!

Asdfdsf
Asdfdsf

Yes, it is just you. The rest of us recognize that this has been a developing story. Puroll getting fired for untruthfulness is certainly newsworthy.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Bill, thank you. However, I have forgotten most of what I ever knew about law enforcement and only on rare occasions can regurgitate memories of those days gone by. I think we need to find a 'real cop' who can also be a meaningful administrator who is willing to run a true campaign of 'no more than two terms'. The first term would be spent ridding MCSO of the trash and bringing in true professionals to direct the working staff. The second term would be to bring MCSO into the professional agency we taxpayers expect and haven't been getting for eighteen years.

It would indeed be a great thing to have people from the upper peninsula of Michigan recognize MCSO as a place they might want to work, instead of as an agency that has the old fart running it and running the Mexicans back to where they came from.

2011 is a new year and I am hoping for significant change very soon.

Kit Carson
Kit Carson

Actually the Phoenix New Times is one of the most recognized investigative media outlet in the US and it routinely wins out over mainstream media for AZ Press Club awards. In other words, the mainstream media who comprise the AZ Press Club recognize the New Times as a superior, reputable news source.

I'm not sure how much longer it will hold that reputation with Lemons' attack on Pearce, but Rubin is very well regarded. You can challenge the man on his prose and word choice, but his facts are largely unassailable.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

JD, interesting little diatribe. You do realize no one is holding a gun to your head and making you read the stories by Mr. Rubin and the rest of the New Times staff?

Maybe just amuse yourself and read the pearce autobiography, "I Love russ pearce", buy R. Pearce...

I am almost certain Mr. Rubin will take your remarks to heart and immediately cease and desist such future activity...

You're such a twit, JD.

MikeD
MikeD

Ditto that !

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