Three Phoenix police officers have resigned after a bizarre and disturbing case of abuse. Richard G. Pina, Jason E. McFadden, and Michael J. Carnicle are accused of making a 19-year-old Phoenix man eat marijuana found in his car after a stop — an act that left the man feeling ill. The resignations occurred just before the officers were fired, but there remains a couple of disturbing questions.
The man was forced to eat a gram of marijuana.
First, the video cameras of the officers were turned off at the time — another such incident where the ability to turn off cameras left an alleged abusive act go unrecorded. It would seem axiomatic that, if such cameras serve the public interest, there should not be a switch that can be used to shield arrests or actions.
Second, a fourth officer, Jeff Farrior, was reportedly aware of the abuse and did nothing. Yet, he was only demoted from lieutenant to sergeant. So let me get this straight. A supervising officer learns that three officers degraded a citizen and forced him to eat drugs for their entertainment. Yet, he did nothing and will not just remain an officer but remain a sergeant? What exactly does it take in the Phoenix Police Department to at least be demoted to patrol officer? Even if you do not believe that this is worthy of termination, why would you leave this officer with a rank over any other officers? One of the three resigned officers was just a witness according to news reports but was still being considered for termination. Here, the supervisor had a duty to act but did nothing.
There may now be a criminal investigation and presumably the driver could sue the department in tort.
What is particularly disturbing is that all three officers were in their first year with Phoenix police and were probationary employees. Yet, if the allegations are true, they could not wait to abuse their power or could not get themselves to stop the abuse of a driver. Obviously, most officers would be appalled by the conduct. However, to see such a complete failure of not just three officers but a supervising lieutenant is chilling.