Former Phoenix police officer found guilty of aggravated assault

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A former Phoenix police officer has been found guilty of aggravated assault in the 2010 shootings of a 29-year-old man and his dog.

Jurors hearing the case against Richard Chrisman failed to reach verdicts on second-degree murder and animal cruelty charges.

The verdict was read Tuesday morning after about four days of deliberations.

Chrisman faces a sentence of five to 15 years.

Chrisman said he acted in self-defense when Daniel Rodriguez tried to grab his gun and attack him with a bicycle inside a mobile home.

Police were called to the trailer after Rodriguez got into an argument with his mother and knocked a hole in a wall of their home.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez told jurors during opening statements that Chrisman had put a pistol to Rodriguez's head when he questioned the right of officers to enter the trailer.

Chrisman's partner testified that Rodriguez was not armed and wasn't posing a threat when Chrisman shot him.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement regarding the verdict:

"First, I want to thank the members of the jury for their time and effort. Nevertheless, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the counts charging Second Degree Murder and Animal Cruelty, we will assess the case and determine the most appropriate course of action. One possible course of action is to retry the remaining counts, which is permitted under our state and federal constitutions. 

"As for the guilty verdict on the Aggravated Assault count, it is important to note that, but for the personal courage and honorable conduct of Phoenix Police Officer Sergio Vergillo, Richard Chrisman would not have been held accountable for even this unlawful act. Officer Vergillo displayed the type of character we expect of those who take an oath to protect and defend our laws and to carry out their duties faithfully and impartially. In situations where one police officer is called upon to hold a fellow officer accountable for wrongdoing, it is those who are truly loyal to the call of service who step up and are worthy of our trust and confidence.

"Today's verdict, while incomplete, is proof that no one is above the law and that all who violate the public's trust will be held accountable."