Should a Cop Still Get Paid to "Retire" While the Family of a Man He Killed Gets Millions?

Categories: Morning Poll
james-peters-side.jpg
Former Scottsdale Police Officer James Peters
Last week, the Scottsdale City Council agreed to pay $4.25 million to the family of John Loxas, who was unarmed when Scottsdale Police Officer James Peters shot him in the head in February 2012, killing him instantly.

Loxas was the sixth man killed by Peters, who has since retired from the police department with an "accidental disability," and currently collects a monthly pension check of around $4,500.

See also:
-Scottsdale Agrees to Pay $4.25 Million Loxas Family
-Scottsdale Police Department Has Quite a Shooting Problem, ACLU Alleges
-James Peters, Scottsdale Cop With Six Kills, Approved for Retirement

Throw in the legal fees the city's already spent on the case, and that's a lot of money being tossed around.

City of Scottsdale documents show attorneys for Loxas' family had sought a settlement of $7.75 million, before both sides agreed to $4.45 million -- a figure that still has to be approved by the federal court handling the lawsuit filed on behalf of Loxas' family.

Police responded to Loxas' place on Valentine's Day 2012, after neighbors reported that he'd pointed a gun at them. Loxas answered the door when police arrived, holding his 7-month-old grandson in his arms.

Peters, who was one of several officers there, shot a rifle round into Loxas' forehead, killing him.

Loxas had weapons inside the house, including one police say was in reach, but he didn't actually have a weapon on him, and no other officer fired a shot.

That was the sixth fatal shooting Peters was involved in.

Loxas' daughter Alexandria said Peters had used her father as "target practice," and when ACLU of Arizona legal director Dan Pochoda called Peters a "bad cop," he corrected himself -- "It goes beyond the word 'bad,'" he said.

A few months after Peters' last shooting, he applied for that "accidental disability" retirement, which he was approved for. City officials couldn't tell us what that disability was due to privacy laws, but the timing was certainly convenient.

Our question for this morning: should a cop still get paid to retire while the city has to pay out more than $4 million for the man he killed? For further consideration, the City also agreed to a smaller settlement in 2009 to the family of another person shot by Peters, although it wasn't millions of dollars.

Cast your vote below:



Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


My Voice Nation Help
63 comments
yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

He paid into the retirement system and was granted the ability to medically retire.  He deserves every penny.  Public Safety Retirement has nothing to do with the City of Scottsdale or their settlements.

marcy
marcy

He should retire to a jail cell

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

I say NO but union contract rules say yes. Probably not a whole lot you can do about it. But rest assured that he won't be killing anyone else in the line of duty anytime soon.

Martin Lewis
Martin Lewis

The West's most trigger happy town. I guess their motto is "shoot 1st, ask questions later."

Jerry Young
Jerry Young

Nothing I've read indicates there was any imminent threat to justify deadly force based on the use of force continuum. Even if there was a firearm within reach, he did not have control and had he reached for the firearm, I can't believe a squad of young cops within reach couldn't have easily taken him down with submission techniques or even hard hands like a baton, taser or even a push to the ground. This cop is trigger happy to shoot an unarmed grandfather in the forehead while he's holding a grandchild. Without any consideration of the previous five deadly shootings, I can't understand why this cop wasn't charged with murder?

nojailforyou1
nojailforyou1

We will be paying for his "retirement"; what he paid in will never come near the expenses over time.  I don't understand why they do no press criminal charges against him for at least the most recent KILLING.   He had a 7 month old BABY in his arms when he shot his latest victim.  He has made himself judge, jury and executioner.  Who does he think he is.  A large part of the problem is that the law enforcement agency themselves did not "notice" his high rate of not only deadly force but DEATHS.  Doesn't anyone monitor this?  I am disgusted that he was allowed to retire, he should be prosecuted.  There was no retirement for his victims or their family.  Sometimes the long blue line needs to take a look harder at some of their officers.   Not everyone is cut out to be a law enforcement officer and there is no shame in identifying them.  It would do all officers a service by keeping the "undesirables" off the force.  I strongly feel we need some type of citizens review committee in this county.  It is long over due.

Susan Rastella
Susan Rastella

We will be paying for his "retirement"; what he paid in will never come near the expenses over time. I don't understand why they do no press criminal charges against him for at least the most recent KILLING. He had a 7 month old BABY in his arms when he shot his latest victim. He has made himself judge, jury and executioner. Who does he think he is. A large part of the problem is that the law enforcement agency themselves did not "notice" his high rate of not only deadly force but DEATHS. Doesn't anyone monitor this? I am disgusted that he was allowed to retire, he should be prosecuted. There was no retirement for his victims or their family. Sometimes the long blue line needs to take a look harder at some of their officers. Not everyone is cut out to be a law enforcement officer and there is no shame in identifying them. It would do all officers a service by keeping the "undesirables" off the force. I strongly feel we need some type of citizens review committee in this county. It is long over due.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14 topcommenter

Ther was a recent study that gave careers that sociopaths would be good at and the number 10 spot was policeman. 

Both Peters and Arpaio fit the description.

Josh Smusz
Josh Smusz

Note that this guy killed 6 people and since he was a cop his "punishment" was retirement with pay. A friend of mine asked Scottsdale cops about this guy, of course they defended him but they said something very funny. Along the lines of, well if he wasn't there think of all the criminals who would have been shooting at us! LOL! Like this guy actually prevented six separate people from trying to injure police. Like he just magically was there every time.

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

Keep up the good work Scottsdale PD and keep shooting even if the suspect is unarmed.

Jerry Young
Jerry Young

Nothing sounds legit and he needs to be charged with murder! To shoot an unarmed man with a small child in his arms, even if there was a firearm within reach, where was the imminent threat that justifies deadly force?

Justin Yentes
Justin Yentes

He's not really on the government dime at this point. I'm sure the $4,500 he's getting is from his retirement fund that he's been paying into that all state LEO's participate in. That said, glad this guy is off the streets.

Carlos Andrés
Carlos Andrés

NO!! And then the city of Scottsdale plans to raise property taxes to pay for this shit...The citizens of Scottsdale should be pissed if anyone...I guess they don't care, most of them can afford more taxes I'm thinking..The citizens of Scottsdale paid this mans salary through taxes, and it looks like they will pay for the retirement of this murderous jackass through taxes, and may have to pay more in property taxes to pay for this idiots mistake...But all ok because he wore a badge??

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

Technically the retirement account belongs to the employee. Both the employer and employee pay into that account until it's deemed appropriate to distribute the funds on a monthly basis.

In this case the 'accidental disability' was likely diagnosed by a number of psychologists who examined the officer after the last shooting and determined he wasn't mentally or emotionally 'fit' to continue to be a police officer, thus the retirement was allowed.

Since the retirement account is managed by a third party investment accounting firm neither the employer or employee have anything to say or do with the amount of the distribution.

In some cases people who have been convicted of murder and sent to prison are still being paid retirement funds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Williams

Interesting story.

William Anthony Hagey
William Anthony Hagey

However, the "accidental disability" that he filed for should be investigated. If it's not legit, they shouldn't be paying him.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@nojailforyou1  There's not a chance that they could convict him, since the only justification required is that he felt fear for his life.  The fact that a criminal is holding a child is not like calling "time out" and certainly doesn't mean that he wasn't a threat.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

@Susan Rastella Susan, the taxpayers in this case don't pay any further once the employee, Peters, terminated employment with the City of Scottsdale. The retirement fund, which is a third party account, will continue to pay his retirement pension amount should he live long enough to surpass the amount that was invested by the City and the employee. That amount is offset during the years of employment as money is paid into the retirement fund and invested. Most retirement funds rely on retirees actually dying before they drain their retirement amount....

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Josh Smusz  You're misunderstanding.  He almost certainly did prevent criminals from shooting at, if not actually shooting, other cops.  That doesn't mean that he magically appeared at the right place.   If I pull a card out of the deck and it happens to be the three of clubs well, gee there was only one chance in 52 of pulling that particular card.  That doesn't make it magical.

The point they're making is that most (if not all) of the people he shot were shooting at cops or had shot at cops, or would shoot at cops.

FishOn
FishOn

@JoeArpaioFan    You keep castin' but they ain't bitin'.   You might wanna change yer bait there, fella.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Jerry Young

If there's a gun within reach, he's a threat even if he isn't currently holding one.

What is there about holding a child that you think makes him less of a threat?

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

@Jerry Young How was the officer supposed to know if he was unarmed or not?  Should the cop have asked (when it appeared the suspect was reaching into his wasteband) "is that a gun you have or not?  You are an idiot!!!!!!

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Justin Yentes  That's the core of the situation.  He could never have been prosecuted successfully, and we wouldn't really want to waste taxpayer money trying.

Bnbk
Bnbk

@Tommy_Collins What I find extremely troubling is that it took six people being killed by Peters, before any of the psychologists determined that Peters wasn't mentaly or emotionally "fit"to be a police officer.

dcdiggs
dcdiggs

@valleynative, Are you sure of that? It seems that, in this instance anyway, no one's life was saved. Instead, a little boy gets to grow up without his grandfather because a cop wassimply trigger-happy. I wonder how he will fulfill his murderous tendencies now that he doesn't have the cover of his job to hide behind?

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@valleynative Thing is, since all of those cops had guns drawn and were aiming them at the victim, even if he did pull a weapon out of his wasteband, they would have nailed him before the weapon was even pointed at them, much less the time it take to get off a round. Bad shooting, I'm afraid. But Scottsdale made the decision to retire him and pay off the victim's family. More than likely, case closed.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

@Bnbk @Tommy_Collins Agreed. I was astonished after his fifth shooting that he was returned to duty. The mental and emotional strain of being involved in a shooting is HUGE for all the officers involved. Generally speaking officers with multiple shooting incidents are transferred into 'low contact' assignments for a period of time, rather than being allowed to return to patrol, or a special assignment such as SWAT where the potential for shooting is MUCH higher. It could (and probably was) be argued that police admin in this case were negligent by keeping him in a high risk assignment.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14 topcommenter

@Bnbk @Tommy_Collins Exactly why I say that all LEOs should undergo regular psychological screening to determine if they are stable enough to wear a badge and carry a firearm.

Of course, this practice would decimate the current MCSO.

dcdiggs
dcdiggs

@yourproductsucks, How do you even know that he chose medical retirement because he was bothered by his fatal shootings? I think it was more likely that he realized he had gone a step too far in executing a man holding a baby in his arms. No doubt he was also encouraged by his superiors to get out of Dodge.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@eric.nelson745 i dont know if JAFfy ever did or didnt...........but i do Know he is the type that DO wash out. (personally i doubt he ever had the courage to try for either though)

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy Jaffy did? Just couldn't cut it, huh? Oh, did you know that valleynative is somehow connected to the Center for Arizona Policy?

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@yourproductsucks @eric.nelson745 I'm not saying he's a bad cop. It IS remarkable, however, that he has been involved in now seven officer-involved shootings, which is about six times the "average" cop gets involved in an entire career. It is telling, no matter what you may think about Officer Peters, that Scottsdale is paying the victims family and thus avoiding a potentially greater loss if there were a wrongful-death lawsuit filed. Also that they're letting him go with a pension that at 50% of retirees would salivate at. Including me. If I was to receive $4500 for life in addition to my other benefits, well let's say that my troubles would be over.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

and thats why i am SOOOOOOOOO glad people like JAFfy always wash out of the service and out of police acadamies.    THANK GOD

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@yourproductsucks legitimate or not, intentional or not, taking life is hard. i can only hope it DOES bother him (that would mean he has retained his humanity) i wasnt there for his shootings, so i can only speculate.  

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@eric.nelson745 He also has 6 other shootings that are all obviously legitimate.  That's not a negative as it appears the readershp and author is attempting to make it out to be.  The circumstances of the other shootings are conveniently left out as well...

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@eric.nelson745 @valleynative Who knows what the training level was of the others there, however, this officer had years of experience in the SWAT environment which typically gives them the edge when dealing with Hostage Rescue scenarios.  What's continually and seemingly conveniently left out of this story is the child was in danger and the Officer made sure the suspect wasn't allowed to flee into the residence where the weapons were and placing the child in imminent danger.  The officer made the right decision when this suspect was obviously not obeying commands by the 7 officers there. 

You never allow a barricaded suspect to return inside the residence with a hostage. EVER.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@valleynative @eric.nelson745 Yes. There were at least six cops with guns drawn and aimed straight at the victim. It seems that Officer Peters was the only one of them who saw the need to shoot... and to kill. Can't you see that there's something wrong with this picture?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@eric.nelson745 @valleynative  Do I seriously understand you to be saying that he wasn't really a threat because one of the other cops would have shot him before he could get off a round?

You understand that if somebody is going to try to shoot you, your goal is to stop him BEFORE he can do that, right?


yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@Tommy_Collins @Bnbk There are Officers in multiple agencies who have been involved in multiple shootings.   I know of none who are re-assigned when cleared of wrong doing and evaluation simply becuase they have been in more than one critical incident.  I know this first hand.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...