Police union backs cop -- not chief -- in use-of-force-ruling from 2016 shooting

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During a news conference Tuesday, union officials described the situation in which Officer Jaime Robles shot through the windshield of his patrol at 51st Avenue and Camelback Road. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) During a news conference Tuesday, union officials described the situation in which Officer Jaime Robles shot through the windshield of his patrol at 51st Avenue and Camelback Road. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
“We seem to have a police chief who's out of touch with the realities of line-level police work,” Ken Crane, the president of PLEA, said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) “We seem to have a police chief who's out of touch with the realities of line-level police work,” Ken Crane, the president of PLEA, said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

With officer-involved shooting here in Arizona and throughout the country making headlines seemingly every week, many people want to know how often the use of deadly force is necessary and if officers have other options.

The actions of Phoenix police officer two years ago divided the city, but now the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association has come out in his support, saying the case represents broader concerns members have with Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.

Nobody was hurt in that instance, which happened the day after Officer David Glasser was shot and killed during a burglary called in a Laveen neighborhood in May 2016.

[REFRESH YOUR MEMORY: Phoenix police officer shot in the line of duty has died (May 19-20, 2016)]

[ORIGINAL STORY: Phoenix police officer shot in gun battle with burglary suspect (May 18, 2016)]

During a news conference Tuesday, union officials described the situation in which Officer Jaime Robles shot through the windshield of his patrol at 51st Avenue and Camelback Road. Robles said a man in a stolen car had pointed a gun at him.

While the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office cleared Robles of any wrongdoing, an internal review by the Phoenix Police Department's Use of Force Board found that he violated department policy because firing at that suspect posed a threat to the community.

Williams recently upheld the board’s decision, which was critical of Robles’ actions and advised that he be suspended.

PLEA, however, says Robles had no choice in that situation.

“We seem to have a police chief who's out of touch with the realities of line-level police work,” Ken Crane, the president of PLEA, said during Tuesday’s news conference. “We have a police chief who doesn't understand or doesn't want to understand policy, and invents new ones when needed to suit her motives.”

Arizona’s Family reached out to Williams’ office about the case and PLEA’s comments but we have not heard back.

There have been 23 officer-involved shooting in Phoenix so far this year compared to 21 for all of last year.

[SPECIAL SECTIONS: Officer-involved shootings in 2018 and 2017 officer-involved shootings]

Earlier this year, PLEA defended the officer who shot and killed a man who was throwing bricks at a police car and precinct substation on Dec. 26, 2015.

[THAT STORY: Phoenix Law Enforcement Assn. defends officer's use of force (Feb. 21, 2018)]

[RELATED: Officer at police precinct shoots, kills brick-throwing man]

“Police managers will often take the politically safe route when it comes to police use of force matters,” Crane said during a news conference on that case in February. “This means the men and women who daily man the front lines are sometimes sacrificed for the benefit of the politically correct decision.”

Like Robles, the office in that incident was cleared by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Also like Robles, the Use of Force Board recommended that the shooting be designated "out of policy." Williams went with the board's suggestion.

"While there are times I may not agree with their recommendations and I may request more analysis, I know the Boards make their decisions on extensive review and testimony," Williams responded to PLEA's stance on that case, which was incorporated into the Department's required de-escalation training. The Phoenix Police Department was one of the first agencies in the county to adopt specific training to defuse potentially deadly encounters.

[RELATED: Behind the scenes with Phoenix police de-escalation training]


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