Police tapes released in Bundgaard-Ballard fight; charges coming?

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by Catherine Holland and Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on April 20, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 20 at 9:31 AM

PHOENIX – Newly released recordings are shedding light on the headline-making altercation between Rep. Scott Bundgaard and his now ex-girlfriend, and now that the legislative session has officially wrapped up, charges could be filed against Bundgaard.

According to police, Bundgaard (R, Legislative District 4) and Aubry Ballard argued while driving home after the Dancing with the Stars Arizona charity event Feb. 25, but they offered conflicting accounts on what else happened that night on State Route 51.

The just-released tapes of police questioning both Bundgaard and Ballard illustrate those differences.

Ballard told police Bundgaard hit her. Bundgaard insisted he did no such thing, stating that he “reached over and grabbed her” when she opened the car door.

“She took a couple shots at me,” he told investigators.

Ballard maintained that Bundgaard had hit her, going on to say he told her she was crazy -- using profanity to do so -- and that she was “making it up in [her] head."

Bundgaard said Ballard reached for the gun he kept in his car. Ballard categorically denied that.

"I would never, ever point a gun at somebody," she told police. "These accusations he's making have really upset me."

According to Ballard, Bundgaard hit her twice in the chest, threw her cell phone out the car window, and then pushed her to the ground when she tried to retrieve the phone.

Bundgaard said Ballard had been drinking at the event but he had not. Ballard countered, saying she saw him drinking.

Bundgaard told police that while Ballard hit him -- he had a black eye and a split lip -- he never fought back.

Investigators said both Bundgaard and Ballard, who had been together for about seven months, had marks indicative of a physical altercation.

Due to legislative privilege, Bundgaard was not arrested the night of the incident. However, Ballard was booked into jail, charged with one count of assault. That charge was dismissed prior to her release from jail, but city prosecutors can re-file the charge against her if they deem it appropriate.

After completing their investigation, detectives requested that Bundgaard be charged with one count of assault for his involvement in the incident once the legislative session ended. That session formally closed early Wednesday morning. They have submitted their report to the Phoenix City Prosecutor's Office.

A Republican caucus removed Bundgaard from his position as Senate majority leader two weeks after the incident.

A few days later, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against the embattled senator. Sen. Ron Gould, who chairs the Senate Ethics Committee, said the complaint, which was filed by Democratic Sen. Leah Landrum, "did not comply with Senate rules regarding ethics complaints."

Gould said the dismissal did not preclude the possibility of future complaints against Bundgaard.

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