Deadly shooting in Tucson raises concerns about constable safety across Arizona

One constable says most of the court orders constables serve are done alone, without a partner or any backup.
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 4:44 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Serving evictions and orders of protection may not sound dangerous, but it is, especially when you don’t know who’s on the other side of the door. On Thursday, Pima County Constable Deborah Martinez-Garibay was killed serving an eviction notice at a Tucson apartment complex. An apartment manager and neighbor were also killed before the gunman shot himself.

Ron Myers has served as a Maricopa County Constable for more than 16 years. He said what happened in Tucson is happening across the country, with desperate, mentally disturbed people going after anyone wearing a badge.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” said Myers. “You have somebody out doing their job for the public, trying to help everybody out, and she gets killed by some guy. For what? Because he didn’t want to leave his apartment, that’s nuts.”

Earlier this week, two deputies were shot serving an eviction notice in Oklahoma City. One of them died.

Maricopa Constable Mike Branham said most of the court orders constables serve are done alone, without a partner or any backup.

Efforts are made to go through court records or speak to a landlord to find out if an individual being evicted has a violent past or could pose a threat. In those cases, additional constables or law enforcement personnel are often called out, but it’s not always enough.

“Frequently, we go to a location and find out people who actually are signed on that lease are no longer connected to that property,” said Branham. “You’ve got people completely unknown in that property that we are now dealing with. We have no background on them at all.”

Staffing challenges limit the ability of constables to work in teams on every eviction, but policies could change following a deadly incident like the one in Tucson. “Like the end of every other police involvement, where there’s been a loss of life, there’s going to be a lesson or two for everyone to learn from,” said Branham.