Juan Martinez Set to Try Ex-Cop Richard Chrisman

For all of you Juan Martinez fans, cameras reportedly have been approved in the courtroom for the upcoming trial of Richard Chrisman with Judge Warren Granville presiding (and no longer Judge Sherry Stevens).

Officer Chrisman is accused of shooting Daniel Frank Rodriguez and his pit bull dog in October 2010. He has been charged with second degree murder and animal cruelty.

Ms. Elivira Fernandez wanted to teach her 29-year old son Daniel a lesson. She was upset that he had been throwing things at the wall of her mobile home and called 911. His mother told the 911 operator that her son was out of control. The police treated it as a domestic violence call.

Officer Chrisman and Officer Sergio Virgillo arrived on the scene. His mother asked the police to reason with her son but soon thereafter, her son was shot dead by Officer Chrisman.

Officer Chrisman allegedly entered the home without permission. According to the police report, Daniel and Officer Chrisman argued about the police not having a search warrant. Daniel said that it was his trailer and they had no right to be inside his home.

Officer Chrisman allegedly pulled out his weapon, put it to Daniel’s head and responded “yes we do motherf*cker.”

A physical struggle ensued and Officer Chrisman grabbed Daniel’s arm, attempting to detain him. Neither officer could control Daniel and at that point, Officer Chrisman sprayed “O.C.” spray in Daniel’s eyes.

As this was happening, one of the dogs was barking from across the room.

The spray was too strong for Officer Virgillo who then stepped outside but could hear the two men arguing. Officer Chrisman then tases Daniel multiple times. Daniel tries to leave with his bike and the dog begins to bark again. The situation is chaotic. It was at this point that Officer Chrisman shoots the dog.

Daniel is upset after his dog is shot and continues arguing with Officer Chrisman. Officer Virgillo says that the arguing, at this point, lasted for about five seconds, at which time he witnessed Officer Chrisman pull out his weapon and shoot Daniel.

According to the police report, Officer Virgillo did not think that the dog was a threat. Nor did he believe that Daniel’s bike was a threat to Officer Chrisman.

Officer Chrisman had pressed the gun so hard against the victim’s head that it left bruises that were noticed during the autopsy.

Officer Chrisman’s attorney has alleged that Daniel Rodriguez was high on drugs at the time of the incident. The victim was also allegedly armed with a sheathed knife that was located in his right back pants pocket.

Prosecutor Martinez will likely highlight a well-documented 2005 incident in which Officer Chrisman planted a crack pipe on a mentally ill homeless woman. Though Officer Chrisman said it was a prank, he was suspended for one day by the Phoenix Police Department.

Officer Chrisman is also on the Brady List, a database of “bad” police officers who have “questionable integrity.”

25 thoughts on “Juan Martinez Set to Try Ex-Cop Richard Chrisman

  1. Thank you Dr. KR. I hate to hear about cops that abuse power. There are so many good officers out there to protect us and it gives them a bad rap. I just got a speeding ticket (deserved) and the officer was nice. No bad attitude and at the speed I was going he should have had one. I have only been stopped by one that was a real A.H.

  2. Dr Randle, thanks for this summary. I definitely plan to follow the Chrisman trial. Anyone know if there was a hearing today and is so, was it live streamed?

  3. I’m assuming the section 1983 civil trial hasn’t been settled, with the city as the deep pocket to make the point.

    There’s a huge difference between a DV case and an EDP case and officers are not trained enough to deal with the EDPs. To me, the first flaw was categorizing it as a DV to begin with. That makes it automatically a criminal case, and in many locales, cops are expected to arrest one party. A better understanding of EDP cases, and the psych holds that can be used to detain and obtain treatment for the mentally ill is essential as these sorts of things happen all the time. They specially train specific officers to deal with suicidal people, they should also specially train officers to deal with other forms of emotional disturbance.

    And obviously, if this guy thought it was “funny” to plant drugs on a mentally ill woman, there’s something seriously wrong with this guy. Too bad it took the death of a young man and a barking dog to get him away from a badge and gun.

  4. I read the police report on the Chrisman shooting a few months back.
    Chrisman has an uphill battle to get out of this one. He appears to be a loose cannon and his partner that night Officer Virgillos’ account of that night seems solid.
    Virgillo was upset after the shooting and not comfortable of how Chrisman handled
    the entire situation.
    Juan will probably have half the Phoenix PD in the courtroom staring him down.

        • I was stopped right after the lunch break at court by the cop who I’d just dismissed from the stand. He stopped me and I looked at him and said, “do I need to quote the statutes one this one?” Nobody from that department tried that again.

          There are weird laws in some states. In IL, for instance, an affirmative defense to speeding is being an attorney on his/her way to court. In other places, because cops have a habit of not writing tickets for other cops, the State won’t enforce tickets against other members of the bar, though that’s more of a general policy in some places just like not writing a speeding ticket for a cop is a general policy in some places.

          In general, where there’s been some historical attempt at interference by police, you’re going to find these rare exceptions. One state (ND?) allows legislators to speed when going to the capitol. Others have other provisions.

          Most of this is meaningless if, say in the ’60’s, during the Civil Rights Movement, the cops were using their power to stop you, and hold you for the Klan. But it is a way of attempting to prevent abuse of power when trying to get an appeal filed before a court in the pre-fax days.

          Yes, I agree with others, one bad cop taints too many good cops. I am glad to see in this case that the partnered officer stood up to and countered this guy’s crap. It’s not so much the bad cops, imho; it’s the band of blue’s tendency to have each other’s back no matter what.

          If the band of blue really had each others backs, then they’d want bad cops out asap. They’d allow their brothers and sisters to be human, and pull them from the street when stuff is not going right in life. They would be even more encouraged to engage in mental health services, not just when there’s a shooting, but whenever the stresses of life are too much (these people are carrying guns and protecting the populace, after all. It might not be a good idea for them to respond to domestic violence calls when their marriages are on the rocks, for example).

          We also need to get past the standard street cop as foot soldier mentality.

          • Bellkurve, this is shocking that they give members of the bar a special pass. Attorneys speeding, or violating traffic laws, on the way to court can be really dangerous. Speeding for fun is less dangerous really than someone whose frantic to get somewhere. Add cell phones to the mix. I think it’s a really bad idea (immoral) to give lawyers a break on this.

        • Chris, I didn’t share this before but I just got back from Tampa where I took the Florida Bar Exam on July 30-31st!! (Wish me luck, after practicing in another state for 18 years!) But what I wanted to share is that while I was there (staying in a hotel a couple blocks away from the Tampa police department) news broke of the investigation by the state attorney’s office of the Tampa police DUI unit making false arrests and setting people up for DUI charges.

          The whole department is now under investigation for possible criminal charges and having to review false convictions. Cops have become notorious liars. (Though many are honorable, too many band together in abusing their power.) Which is why I don’t think anyone should ever be convicted on the testimony of a police officer.

          • Thanks so much for the good wishes. It was a lot fun! I’ll let you know-takes 2 months to get results. :)

          • Let us all know how you did. I hate to hear about bad cops. Do know they are out there but want to think it is to protect us. What you heard in Florida is disgusting. If it’s true I hope they all go bye bye. Let’s hope they get to the bottom of it.

  5. Ah, Juan – now there’s a prosecutor.
    You can be sure he won’t be presenting prosecution witnesses that are, in effect, defense witnesses, or apologising right , left and centre in case he has offended someone, or falling over defense experts to tell them how well regarded they are, nor praising the officer for what a good job he was doing, or even asking the victim’s mother whether she wanted her son dead!
    No, how Zimmerman must thank his lucky stars he wasn’t charged in Arizona – and how Jodi must wish she hadn’t been either, as no doubt, Chrisman will, too.

  6. I was really looking forward to watching this case. Cameras were approved however there wasn’t enough interest so now it’s being reported that it won’t be live streamed. I’m very surprised to hear this, I would have thought the interest would be overwhelming with our man, Juan prosecuting the case.

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