Deputy's Death Opens the Door Onto a World of Corruption in Sheriff Joe's MCSO

On April 30, the Phoenix Police Department answered a residential-burglary call at Armendariz's home, according to paperwork on file in Maricopa County Superior Court.

They found Armendariz in his boxer shorts firing a pepper-ball launcher at imaginary intruders in his garage.

The PPD alerted the MCSO, whose detectives saw marijuana and drug paraphernalia in an MCSO evidence bag, according to an account filed with the search warrant.

While Armendariz was taken to a hospital for an evaluation, the MCSO searched his home, uncovering property bags containing what's believed to be cocaine, meth, heroin, and LSD.

There were multiple boxes of criminal citations, with evidence bags never submitted to the court.

Some of the bags bore Armendariz's name and dated back to 2007. There also were more than 100 license plates "from unknown vehicles" and "hundreds" of driver's licenses, ID cards, passports, credit cards, and wallets.

It's been speculated that Armendariz shook down illegal immigrants and that other MCSO deputies also were involved.

In separate closed-door sessions, Arpaio's lawyers informed Judge Snow of Armendariz's arrest on drug charges, his suicide after his release, and of a find that directly involves the Melendres case: about 540 video discs containing some 900 hours of footage shot by Armedariz during traffic stops in which he was involved.

Armendariz used both a dashboard camera in his patrol vehicle and an eyeglass camera to record stops. MCSO attorney Tim Casey showed a couple of the videos to the court as examples.

One video, which Casey labeled "problematic," showed Armendariz drawing his gun and pointing it at the passenger of a vehicle he had just stopped. This, according to ACLU attorney Dan Pochoda, who was there when the video was played.

Pochoda says it wasn't apparent what the stop was for but that the couple in the car were Caucasian, and Armendariz had asked to see their IDs. The male on the passenger's side began to get up when Armendariz pulled his weapon.

"You're looking down his arm, with his pistol in his hand," said Pochoda, describing for New Times what he saw, "with the guy three feet in front of him, facing the barrel of a pistol, and there was not the slightest indication of a reason for drawing the gun."

Pochoda says Armendariz told the man he had to assume that he had a gun, a line similar to one he used in testimony during Melendres. The unnecessary escalation of an otherwise routine situation also reminded Pochoda of the incident with Nieto and Meraz.

Armendariz, however, was not the only deputy filming his stops, as Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan told Snow during a May 14 closed-door hearing that since has been unsealed.

The chief deputy advised the court that the MCSO knew its officers were recording stops, some with dash cams and body cams issued by the department at various times and also possibly with department-issued audio recorders.

Sheridan confirmed Snow's observation that "the MCSO had no policy relating to the self-recording of traffic stops by deputies." As for eyeglass cams, deputies were allowed to use them.

What about all the evidence from these portable cameras used by deputies? Sheridan had to confess he did not know what happened to it.

Years before Snow ruled against the MCSO in Melendres, finding the department guilty of racially profiling Hispanics, the plaintiffs issued a litigation hold, demanding all evidence related to traffic stops involving Latinos.

Snow sanctioned the MCSO in 2010 over the fact that it withheld some information and destroyed vast amounts of documents from the sweeps.

On May 14, Snow ordered that Sheridan and court monitor Robert Warshaw quietly attempt to collect any video that was out there while the issue was still under seal.

But in a May 16 hearing, it was revealed that Deputy Chief David Trombi had given a heads-up "to certain advisory personnel" that a collection of traffic-stop video was under way, thus "frustrating" the plan to quietly round up the video.

Without declaring whether Trombi's action was done with malice, Snow ordered that all the material discovered thus far be turned over to both the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

As this column is published, the MCSO's investigation of itself proceeds, under the monitor's watchful eye.

Interestingly, I've also been told that before his death, Armendariz approached a local activist with contacts at the U.S. Department of Justice, looking to spill some beans.

Local attorneys were approached about representing Armendariz, but none took the case because of various conflicts.

At one point during the May 16 hearing, Snow remarked that his order to turn over the material to federal and county law enforcement "has the benefit of protecting MCSO from itself."

But as we follow the skein left by Armendariz, I can't help wondering whether the MCSO's current leadership is traipsing down a self-destructive path of its own, a path beaten by Armendariz.

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84 comments
MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

According to the AP, the plaintiffs in Melendres are asking Judge Snow for even tougher penalties against the old man.

And MontyPug will likely toss all Armendariz's cases.

Roger Morris
Roger Morris

The smoking gun to the end of the Arpaio 150,000,000 million dollar to racist too fail two for one Andrew and the MCSO gangs days. Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution. The Fourth Avenue Reich is finally will come out. Arpaio is sweating. You can see it.

tm98989898
tm98989898

A psychiatrist, psychologist would have a field day with diagnosing why Arpaio likes to put males into pink undies, abuse them in harsh conditions, deny them medical care, harken back to them good ole ball and chain days of the 1930's! Anyone who finds glee in sexual sadism has more issues than "Carter has Liver Pills"!

tm98989898
tm98989898

Sadists come in all colors, cultures, political backgrounds, and where do sadists go to practice their trade? Law enforcement, corrections, military etc., sadly these few bad apples, deviants make others look bad, Arpaio has a Marquis De Sade type leaning behavior he seems to relish, enjoy abusing others whom he holds in contempt, whom he has authority over a classic sadist!

Daron Nikki Petit
Daron Nikki Petit

Marco gets it. I'm no supporter of armed agents of the state, but illegal aliens are profiteers of the shakedown of taxpayers, so if they get a little shakedown of their own........pffft

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

hey andy did you even read the article? im sooo sure that the cocaine, meth, and heroine all came from innocent "latinos" he was shaking down for being just regular upstanding contributors to US society.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

this can happen in any police department or sheriff's office. this is getting more attention merely because it is in maricopa county. if arpaio wasnt in office right now, this would more than likely gotten little to no attention because he is hispanic, and hey, if youre brown, you can do no wrong.

Daron Nikki Petit
Daron Nikki Petit

Emmanuel- Relax, I'm not the problem, nor am I a fool. Read the headline..... BTW, Tell me more about MY agenda.......

Bryan Jorgenson Wallis Hardie
Bryan Jorgenson Wallis Hardie

Is this the guy that "committed suicide"? Sounds exactly like a TV show in which the cop actually didn't "commit suicide".

Gary Trayler
Gary Trayler

Illegal Mexicans do not make a culture also. If they want to be in the US they can follow US law. If Americans go into mexico illegal they get thrown under the jail. I know of no other police and government as corrupt as mexico's. So go back to mexico if you don't like it

Emanuel Gonzalez
Emanuel Gonzalez

Seriously? C'mon man! You are the problem! Idiots who can't read beyond their own agenda. This story clearly mentioned at least 4 people who were victims and were US citizens. You're such a fool.

Emanuel Gonzalez
Emanuel Gonzalez

A few bad apples!? How many countless law suites and scandals make it more than a few an actually classify as a culture in your book?

Gary Trayler
Gary Trayler

MCSO and Joe are the only things that keep Arizona from being over-run with illegal Mexicans. You are going to find a few bad apples in every bunch but you don't throw out all the apples

Johnny Rychlicki III
Johnny Rychlicki III

Everyone associated with MCSO is fascist swine ... but they would all reply "we're just doing our job," so were the Nazis.

drmichaelhardy
drmichaelhardy

"Armendariz, whom the Sheriff's Office says took his own life"

Please: You would write "They said _he_ took his own life", _not_ "They said _him_ took his own life."  Therefore "who", not "whom".

(I've never understood how people can have trouble with something so simple.)

Robert Foster
Robert Foster

And this is a shocker. There are crooked cop everywhere. Not that it is right but it is out there.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

I'm still trying to figure out how anyone with an once of pride, honor or integrity could work for such a corrupt & sleazy organization like MCSO.

Obviously having pride, honor and integrity is not a requirement for working at MCSO.

Kim Peckham
Kim Peckham

Maybe Sheriff Joe has a touch of short guy syndrome causing him to bully Mexicans because they are smaller.

Barbara Hoskinson
Barbara Hoskinson

BIG SURPRISE!!! NOT, everyone knows how corrupt they are except the idiots that keep voting Arpaio into office

Mario Aragon
Mario Aragon

Not quite shock news. Pretty much expected in his regime. I'm sure not the only people they shake down.

Daron Nikki Petit
Daron Nikki Petit

Andy- Which straw man said that being latino means you are involved in illegal activity. Go......

Andy Sargent
Andy Sargent

Obviously you didnt read the article or dont understand the term "Shaking Down". Being Latino doesn't mean you're involved in illegal activity.

Lee Bain
Lee Bain

The title of this article is pretty misleading.

Jeff Turille
Jeff Turille

MCSO stepped across the "thin blue line" years ago. You should not have to break the law to enforce it. It amazes me that people still elect that man.

Daron Nikki Petit
Daron Nikki Petit

Shaking down people involved in illegal activity? How dare they!

dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

Am I the only one here that suspects this was YPS? 

anonymous
anonymous

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”  - George Orwell...

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

misleading article title Stephen. Armendariz' death will do nothing but pose more questions and hide the truth. since he isnt here anymore to answer for himself, all he did was leave unanswered questions (and a lot of them) for instance........how deep did it go? what info did he have? these are questions we will never get answers for. and as for him opening the door to Joe's corruption???? hell..........we all knew about that. with the death of Armendariz, now Joe has a scapegoat that he will try to hang everything on (you know.because Dave isnt around anymore and the dead cant contradict him) it was a good article, so dont get me wrong, but it most assuredly isnt opening any doors to uncovering Joe's corruption. its a shame the guy died, because his death is an out for Joe.      

"okay your honor, profiling may have happened.......but it was Armendariz.......not my policies, crimes may have occured, but it was Armendariz.........not me. evidence may have been tampered with, but it was Aemendariz...........not me"

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967 They are also asking for all the body cam footage and eyeglass footage they found at his home (over 900 hours) to be admitted as evidence in both the current case but the still pending DOJ case.

WALKLIKEADUCK
WALKLIKEADUCK

yeah well both fields are full of quacks, so that really isn't saying much.  Now, quit fantasizing about men in pink undies already and keep it moving,

stephen.lemons
stephen.lemons moderator writer

@drmichaelhardy

As Ed McMahon liked to say, "You are correct, sir!"


Thanks for pointing it out, Doc. Correction is being made.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Cozz, having pride, honor and integrity isn't a requirement for virtually all public servants. Some (a select few) actually try to do their job (Sheila Polk is an example).

WatchingMCSO
WatchingMCSO

That thin blue line was gone years ago, I agree.  But their new motto is, "Lie & Deny" (Instead of To Protect & Serve)

GayPrideParade
GayPrideParade

I think you are right!

YPS did peg your gay relationship with Mr. Lemons. It takes one to know one, so they say.

Good call, Mr Gilman!

dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy I've had the same thoughts. But the problem is he was rarely alone. That includes his own video taping. Also, there were stories of shake downs and money taken from people over the years but it was hard to prove. Many were deported or never given a legit citation and just disappeared because of their legal status. 

TheyCallMeMrTibbs
TheyCallMeMrTibbs

@danzigsdaddy

I disagree. This doesn't help Arpaio at all. MCSO admits they knew other deputies were taping. Means they violated the hold, destroyed more evidence. Part of Melendres ruling is that it orders restructuring of manager to patrol deputy ratio. This proves why this was needed. Also shows lack of training, supervision. You think we'd know about those tapes if there wasnt a monitor? Or that other deps were taping? Hell no. Plus all of this also goes to US Attorney, which may start own inquiry. 

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

Stuff we have no problem believing. BUT, will anything ever be done is my question. Sad to say it, but I just see it ending just like every other thing we put hope in. I think if Armendariz had NOT committed suicide..........THEN it would have possibly opened a Crack in Joe's armor

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@TheyCallMeMrTibbs god only knows how badly i want to be proven wrong on that. lets just hope the US atty actually does something. but the way things have been going? i just cant seem to muster any faith in it

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Hate to break it to ya Zigs, but I don't think US Attorney John Leonardo will do anything. He ruled in 2009 that Arpaio abused his power during the Maricopa County War but conflicted himself out of the abuse of power investigation. He might be conflicted here due to that ruling.

Dontbelieveit
Dontbelieveit topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy  I know how you feel............. I have a hard time putting TRUST in anybody these days .It seems if WE (the people) want to REALLY know the whatsup on anything ...WE have to find out for ourselves .....one way or the other the SHIT is about to hit the fan!!!!!!!!!!! ROTS OF RUCK mcso. Hopefully these degenerate imposters will get ALL they have coming .......INCLUDING PRISON!!!!!!!!!

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967 i view myself as neither a pessimist nor an optimist, i see myself as a realist. so i have to agree completely............he wont do shit

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

I wouldn't mind if this (along with all of Arpaio's other abuses) are sent to a different US Attorney for review Zigs. Let that lawyer make the case.

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