Scottsdale officer under scrutiny after 6 shootings, 5 fatal

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by Marissa Wingate

azfamily.com

Posted on March 4, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 4 at 9:55 PM

SCOTTSDALE -- A Scottsdale police officer has been put under the microscope after shooting six suspects on different occasions in the last eight years, killing five of them.

In all of the shootings police say suspects had threatened officers with weapons, and in three instances other officers shot too, not just Officer James Peters.

One man, 80-year-old Patrick Corbett, said Peters saved his life.

"He made the right decision," Corbett said. "Otherwise, he'd be dead," added Corbett's wife, Jean.

Sgt. Mark Clark of the Scottsdale Police Department said Peters had been involved in more violent confrontations than any other officer in the department.

"There's certainly something remarkable about this officer being involved in this many fatal shootings," Clark said.

Nonetheless, the County Attorney's Shooting Review Board deemed each of the shootings justified.

"He's acted the way we wanted him to act," Clark said.

His first shooting was in 2002, when Peters and two other officers shot a man who had a weapon. Then, in 2003, a suspect who had fired shots was spotted walking along a canal with a shotgun. Investigators say the man refused to drop his weapon and Peters shot him.

In 2005, Peters arrived at a scene where a suspect was attacking an officer.

"The suspect had...a metal pipe that he was attacking an officer with," Sgt. Clark said. "Officer Peters showed up and the suspect came at him, and he again had no choice but to use deadly force."

In 2006, Clark said, A suspect took Patrick Corbett hostage at a Safeway and pointed a gun at Corbett's head.

"There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to shoot me," Corbett said.

Peters shot first, killing the suspect.

Later that year, Peters and another officer shot and killed another suspect.

"The suspect came out of the house with a handgun and actually fired two shots at a line of six officers," Clark said.

The final shooting occurred last month on Feb. 17, when investigators said a suspect drove toward officers. Peters and another detective shot and killed him.

Still, Corbett says Peters is a hero.

"I was just so happy that I was still here," Corbett said. "And it was because of him," Jean Corbett added.

While Scottsdale police say they know six is a lot shootings for one officer, they also said that Officer Peters had arrested over 300 felons, and felons tend to be more violent.

Police also said that since all of this information about Peters has come out, the police department has been inundated with calls of support from citizens.

Peters is currently back at work at the Scottsdale Police Department.

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