by Kevin Heade
When Elvira Fernandez called the police on October 5, 2010, she couldn’t have known what was about to happen. Elvira was embroiled in a domestic dispute involving her 29-year-old son, Daniel Rodriguez but when she called on her local law enforcement to pacify the situation, the only “peace” the officers brought was the kind preceded by the words “Rest in . . . .” Rather than quell the situation upon arriving at Fernandez’s home, Officer Richard Chrisman permanently ended the dispute by shooting and killing Daniel. Officer Chrisman, who gained fame in 2005 when he was caught on video planting a crack-pipe on a homeless woman, was the man responsible for pulling the trigger on the gun that ended Daniel’s life. Chrisman is reported to have pepper-sprayed and Tasered Daniel, and then to have shot and killed the family dog for barking (but not attacking) before proceeding to pump two bullets into Daniel’s body.
On the same day of this gruesome attack, Chrisman was charged by the Phoenix Police Department with aggravated assault and a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals. Needless to say, the family of Daniel Rodriguez and the greater Phoenix community were outraged by the conduct of Officer Chrisman and appalled at the lenient charges the police officer was initially facing, prompting a week of protests outside of the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney Office. Carlos Galindo, a local radio-show host, spearheaded the protests, demanding that Chrisman face murder charges.
Murder charges against a police officer are rare in Arizona. A short survey of the news in the past seven years will turn up several instances of the police killing civilians on calls for domestic violence, suicidal behavior, and other, more serious, crimes. The Tucson Police Department is facing a $30 million lawsuit for the slaying of Randy Helton in 2005. The Mesa Police Department recently reached a $3 million settlement over the shooting death of Mario Madrigal Jr. during a domestic violence incident in 2003 similar to the tragedy involving Daniel Rodriguez. In both of these cases, the officers who shot the victims were not charged with any serious crime, let alone murder.
The mainstream media has not covered these stories of police brutality effectively. Rather than report on the disconcerting implications of armed officers killing those they are meant to protect the media obfuscated the issue by relaying only the police version of the story and by attacking the character of those who have spoken out. For example, Carlos Galindo was recently interviewed by local news station, CBS Channel 5 News, KPHO, about a few anti-Semitic comments posted on his blog a few years ago. Admittedly, Galindo’s comments were despicable and in bad taste, but KPHO’s coverage was a distraction, taking attention away from the protestors demanding justice for Daniel Rodriguez. The piece only paid lip-service to the issue of police brutality and marginalized the issue because of the comments of one individual. The same day KPHO ran its hit-piece on Galindo, a man spat on a protestor. Despite the presence of the police, no charges were brought against the man who assaulted the protestor by spitting on him, causing an uproar at the protest. The incident only inflamed tensions and reinforced the sentiment that the Phoenix Police Department has an evidently partial vision of justice.
After seven days of community protests, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley announced that he had presented charges to a grand jury and secured an indictment against Officer Chrisman for second-degree murder. The protestors are pointing to those charges and claiming a victory. However, it isn’t exactly clear why Romley took the extraordinary step of seeking murder charges against a police officer. It could have been the community pressure via protests, or it could have been the egregious circumstances of this individual case. Regardless, one thing is clear; the police must be held accountable for misconduct.
Perhaps the creation of a Civilian Review Board can ensure that the people maintain control over the police in Phoenix and other municipalities of Arizona. Phoenix City Council member and former homicide detective, Michael Johnson, has been publicly calling for the creation of such a board since March, 2010. Civilian Review Boards have grown in popularity in the last 30 years; nationally, as much as 80% of the population supports the implementation of these structures. Civilian Review Boards typically investigate and hear complaints of abuse, make recommendations to the city, and raise awareness on issues regarding police brutality. However, they do not have the authority to ensure that their recommendations are implemented, or to force the punishment of officers guilty of misconduct. While it would be preferable to give real authority to a Civilian Review Board in Phoenix, the establishment of a board with these advisory powers seen elsewhere in the country would be a good first step to curbing police brutality.
However, we cannot make our communities safer without action from its members. The whole Phoenix-metro area should have been in an uproar over Daniel Rodriguez’s killing; yet, few people exerted the energy required to stand in solidarity with Daniel’s family at the protests. Eradicating police brutality is necessary if we are to achieve any semblance of social justice in Arizona. It is a tragedy that it took the senseless death of Daniel Rodriguez to bring this issue to light, but it will be an inexcusable example of apathy and indifference if the lessons form Daniel’s death don’t compel us all to act now to end police brutality.
 Michael Ferraresi & Dennis Wagner, Officer Arrested in Fatal Shooting, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Oct. 7, 2010, 12:00 AM), http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2010/10/07/20101007policeshooting1007.html?source=nletter-news.
 Timothy Fitz, Phoenix Police Officer, Richard Chrisman, Accused of Murdering Unarmed Man, Also Planted Crack Pipe on Suspect, CHICAGO NEWS REPORT, (Oct. 14, 2010, 8:15 PM), http://www.chicagonewsreport.com/2010/10/phoenix-police-officer-richard-chrisman.html.
 Stephen Lemons,
Richard Chrisman, Daniel Rodriguez’s Autopsy Report, and PLEA’s Spin, PHOENIX NEW TIMES, (Feb. 11, 2011) http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/2011/02/richard_chisman_daniel_rodrigu.php.
 Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13-1204 (2010).
 Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13-2910 (2010).
Stephanie Russo, Mom of Man Killed by Phoenix Police Asks for Non-Violent Support, AZCentral.com, (Oct. 14, 2010, 12:00 AM), http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2010/10/14/20101014phoenix-officer-killing-family-protest.html.
 Amy Wang, Phoenix Police Shooting Protests Continue, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Oct. 9, 2010, 1:46 PM), http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2010/10/09/20101009phoenix-police-shooting-protests-brk.html.
 Ferraresi, supra note 1.
 See William D’Uruso, Mesa Police Shoot, Kill Man Officer Say was Suicidal, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Oct. 07, 2010, 8:06 AM), http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/10/07/20101007mesa-police-shoot-kill-man.html; Jennifer Thomas, Phoenix Home Set on Fire During Burglary; Police Shoot, Kill 1 Suspect, AZFAMILY.COM, (April 23, 2010, 9:42 AM), http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/Suspects-break-into-home-set-it-on-fire-91826869.html; Donna Rossi, Police Shoot, Kill Man Wielding Knife, KPHO.COM, (April 7, 2010), http://www.kpho.com/news/23073292/detail.html; Associated Press, Phoenix Police Fatally Shoot Knife-Wielding Man, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Aug. 02, 2008), http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/08/02/20080802policeshooting-ON.html.
 Kim Smith, Suit Asks for $30M from City, Police, ARIZONA DAILY STAR, (Sept. 27, 2006), http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_d75d2188-e0b1-5851-a490-8e02bce1651c.html.
 Jim Walsh, Mesa to Pay $3 Million Over 2003 Police Shooting of Teen, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Jun. 11, 2009), http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2009/06/10/20090610madrigal0610-on.html.
 See Id.; Smith, supra note 13; Ferraresi, supra note 1 (explaining that a Phoenix area police officer has not faced criminal charges since 2002, when charges were filed against a Chandler Police officer).
 See D’Uruso, supra note 12; Thomas, supra note 12; Rossi, supra note 12 (where the tone of the “news” reflects the police accounts without demonstrating an independent review of the facts).
 Sarah Buduson, Latino Leader Made Anti-Semitic Comments: Galindo Refuses To Address Comments on his Blog, KPHO.COM, (Oct. 14, 2010), http://www.kpho.com/news/25385956/detail.html.
 See Id. (quoting statements from Galindo’s blog claiming “’Americans kiss the Jews’ (expletive deleted)’”, and including an apology from Galindo for these and other comments).
 Lou Show, Day 7 Protest Against Judicial Leniency in the Death of Danny Rodriguez, TUSCON CITIZEN, (Oct. 13, 2010), http://tucsoncitizen.com/three-sonorans/tag/tazing.
 Michael Kiefer, Phoenix Police Officer Indicted in Fatal Shooting, AZCENTRAL.COM, (Oct. 14, 2010), http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/10/14/20101014phoenix-police-officer-shooting-arrest-prosecutor14-ON.html.
 Sonoran Hotdogs, Protest Victory! Phoenix Police Officer Chrisman Will Be Charged with Murder for Killing Unarmed Latino Youth, TUSCON CITIZEN, (Oct. 14, 2010), http://tucsoncitizen.com/three-sonorans/2010/10/14/protest-victory-phoenix-police-officer-chrisman-will-be-charged-with-murder-for-killing-unarmed-latino-youth.
 See Kiefer, supra note 23 (detailing Chrisman’s past unethical conduct and the disturbing details of Rodriguez’s killing).
 Ferraresi, supra note 1.
 See Police Accountability and Citizen Review: A Project Response Publication, The International Association of Chiefs of Police, Nov. 2000, available at http://www.theiacp.org/PoliceServices/ExecutiveServices/ProfessionalAssistance/Ethics/ReportsResources/PoliceAccountabilityandCitizenReview/tabid/193/Default.aspx
 See Civilian Review Board Sample Model, ACLU.COM, http://www.aclufl.org/take_action/download_resources/civilian_review_model.cfm (last visited Oct. 15, 2010).
 See Wang, supra note 10 (noting that only about 30 people attended the protest on Thursday, October 7, 2010).