Information Related to Officer-Involved Shooting Investigations

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Aligned with our commitment to transparency, the city is providing this information to community members.

Investigative and administrative process

Investigative and Administrative Process
For Officer Involved Shootings

When an officer involved shooting (OIS) occurs, there are two investigative tracks that are initiated, a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation.

Criminal Investigation

Immediately following an OIS, Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Bureau will be called to the scene.  The number of detectives will vary based on the specific circumstances of the incident; however, a sergeant, lieutenant, commander and assistant chief will be notified and respond.  Once on scene, the detectives will be briefed on the details of the incident, a case agent will be identified, an investigation will be conducted and may include some or all the following steps:

  • Immediately inform the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of the situation and request their response
  • Interview of the officer/s involved in the shooting.  It is important to note the officer/s involved have the same 5th Amendment rights as any other individual and can not be compelled to provide a statement.
  • Perform a walkthrough with the involved officer/s, their legal counsel (if requested) and a representative from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
  • Examine, photograph, perform a weapons check and conduct a “round count” on all officers involved
  • Obtain and secure all body camera footage
  • Interview of the witness officers
  • Consult with all responding back-up officer/s
  • Interview of community members that may have witnessed the incident
  • Canvass the area to identify witnesses that may not immediately be known
  • Obtain search warrants as needed
  • Process the scene which includes photographs, measurements, collection of all available video from nearby homes or business, and the collection of evidence (shell casing, etc.)
  • Prepare a diagram of the scene for independent review
  • Perform follow-up at every hospital where the involved officer, victim, and/or suspect may have been transported
    • This follow-up will include obtaining statements, determining the level of injury and obtaining evidence such as photographs and articles of clothing
  • Attend autopsies, as needed
  • Submit evidence for additional forensic laboratory analysis, as needed
  • Have interviews transcribed and reviewed, as needed
  • Prepare a complete file of the incident, to include unredacted copies of all videos, audio interviews, and reports, and submit full copies of this file to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office as well as the Tempe Police Department Professional Standards Bureau for the administrative review
  • The criminal investigation can take up to 6 months to complete depending when all the laboratory work is completed

Administrative Investigation

  • Once the criminal investigation has been completed, Internal Affairs will review and audit the case file received by the Criminal Investigations Bureau, to independently verify that the contents are accurate and complete, compared to what is available within the RMS reporting system and within Evidence.com
  • Internal Affairs will review departmental policy that was in effect at the time of the incident
  • Internal Affairs will review the content of the initial interview of the involved officer(s) to determine whether compelled re-interviews are necessary.  Every employee interviewed is read a “Garrity” warning and is compelled to answer the investigator’s questions. 
  • The investigator will compare departmental policy to the information gathered, and prepare a report documenting the findings
  • Internal Affairs will provide a complete investigation to the involved officer/s chain of command and for disciplinary action on any sustained allegations
  • The Internal Affairs investigation can take up to 2 months to complete
  • The police department then provides the completed criminal and administrative investigations to the Tempe Citizens Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force as required by Tempe City Code Article X
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

When the Tempe Police Department completes the criminal investigation, it is forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review. The County Attorney’s Office has an online guide to what occurs with criminal cases involving adults (https://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/189/Adult-Criminal-Trial-Process). According to the webpage:

“If the prosecutor believes that the law enforcement agency's report does not provide sufficient evidence to justify filing of criminal charges, he or she may return the report to the submitting agency for more investigation (or "further" the report), decline to prosecute ("not file"), or refer the case to a prosecutorial agency in another jurisdiction for review.

If the prosecutor believes the report provides sufficient evidence to indicate that the alleged offender has committed a crime and that the case has a reasonable likelihood of a conviction at a trial, the prosecutor will file a direct complaint and/or seek a Grand Jury indictment. Both of these methods constitute a formal filing of criminal charges.”

City Council engagement during public meetings

The State of Arizona has an Open Meeting Law. This law requires that the business of the people be conducted openly with notice and an agenda for such a meeting. The notice and agenda must contain information that is reasonably necessary to inform the public of the matters to be discussed or decided. The Open Meeting Law does not allow the elected body to consider a matter that is not listed on an agenda and posted 24 hours in advance of a public meeting.  A.R.S. § 38-431.02(C).

When individuals speak under the ‘Unscheduled Public Appearances’ section of the agenda, the Council cannot engage in discussion on the issues that the individuals raise.

Unscheduled public appearances as governed by the Open Meeting Law - ARS 38-431.01(H): 

A public body may make an open call to the public during a public meeting, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, to allow individuals to address the public body on any issue within the jurisdiction of the public body. At the conclusion of an open call to the public, individual members of the public body may respond to criticism made by those who have addressed the public body, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be put on a future agenda.  However, members of the public body shall not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during an open call to the public unless the matters are properly noticed for discussion and legal action.

Tempe Citizens’ Panel for Review

Tempe Citizens’ Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force

The Tempe Citizens’ Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force is made up of fifteen (15) public members, and four (4) Police Department members consisting of two (2) sergeants and two (2) line level officers.

When reviewing a matter, a sub-panel is formed consisting of six (6) public members and two (2) Police Department members consisting of one (1) sergeant and one (1) line level officer.  The public members are approved by the City Manager. This panel is currently active.

The assigned duties of the Panel are: (1) to review all police shootings and any police incidents wherein direct physical force by the police results in serious injury or death; (2) to review the findings of the Police Department's investigation of not-sustained, unfounded or exonerated citizen complaints, when that citizen requests a review of the Police Department's findings; and (3) to review any Police Department incident, at the request of the Chief of Police.

After the subpanel reviews a record, they make a recommendation to the Chief of Police.  They can recommend either of the following:

(1) Agree with the findings of the Police Department investigation;

(2) Disagree with the findings of the Police Department investigation;

(3) Advise the Chief of Police that further investigation is warranted;

or (4) Upon a review of a use of police force incident, the review panel shall make a further finding whether the use of police force was within Police Department policy.

Since 2014, there have been fourteen (14) matters examined by the Tempe Citizens’ Panel for Review of Police Complains and Use of Force. Seven (7) have been under subcategory (1) of their assigned duties, either police shooting or incidents involving physical force. Seven (7) have been citizen complaints where the department’s investigation has rendered an outcome that the complainant disagreed with. There are two (2) additional reviews pending, both under subcategory (1).  They are pending due to active litigation of the matters to be reviewed. 

Please reference Chapter 2, Article X of the Tempe City Code for the ordinance governing the Tempe Citizens’ Panel for Review of Police Complaints and Use of Force. The link to the City Code is here: https://library.municode.com/az/tempe/codes/city_code

City Charter

Originally established in 1964, the City Charter is like Tempe’s constitution. It cannot be changed without resident approval through a formal election. A link to the City Charter is here: https://library.municode.com/az/tempe/codes/city_code?nodeId=CHTR_ARTIICICO.

Charter Section 2.05 – Prohibitions

This section conveys that the only city employees that the City Council can manage, direct and employ are its appointed officers, which are the City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk and Presiding Judge. Section 2.08 of the Charter details these “Appointive Officers.”

(b) Appointments and removals. Neither the Council nor any of its members shall in any manner dictate the appointment or removal of any City administrative officers or employees whom the manager or any of his/her subordinates are empowered to appoint, but the Council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the manager anything pertaining to appointment and removal of such officers and employees.

(c) Interference with administration. Except for the purpose of inquiries, or investigations authorized under Section 2.09, the Council or its members shall deal with City officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the manager solely through the manager, and neither the Council nor its members shall give any orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.

Charter Section 2.09 – Investigations

How the city would apply this Charter section in any given situation would begin with the City Council working with the City Attorney’s Office through attorney-client privileged conversations. Any exercise of the Council’s authority in 2.09 would likely not replace or coincide with a criminal investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency.

The Council may make investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of any City department, office or agency. For this purpose, it may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence. Any person who fails or refuses to obey a lawful order issued in the exercise of these powers by the Council shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable as directed by Council ordinance.

Care 7

The City of Tempe’s crisis assistance program, CARE 7, has trained professionals who respond to emergency scenes to support those involved in traumatic events. Their assistance extends beyond the incident and throughout the recovery process. Members of the public who are involved in or witnesses to officer-involved shootings – including family members of those involved – can reach out to the city for support through CARE 7.

tempe.gov/CARE7

480-350-8004