Phoenix officer suffered ‘horrific’ injuries during attack, police union says

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) President Darrell Kriplean says the attack was much more severe than initially described by Phoenix police.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 2:43 PM MST|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 9:25 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — New details are emerging after a Phoenix police officer was attacked over the weekend, suffering what the police union describes as “horrific” injuries.

It began around 9:30 p.m. Sunday near Central Avenue and Thomas Road when an officer was flagged down by a woman who said she was just assaulted by the father of her children. As the officer and woman were speaking, police say the suspect, 24-year-old Rudy Gomez, approached. Moments later, the officer was punched multiple times in the face, then kicked while he was on the ground.

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association president Darrell Kriplean says the attack was much more severe than initially described by Phoenix police. “When our officer attempted to take Gomez into custody, the suspect punched our officer in the face, rendering him unconscious,” Kriplean said. “Gomez continued his attack, brutally punching the officer in the face an estimated dozen times and then stomping on the officer’s face.”

“This officer was beaten, and we could have been planning a funeral,” said Kriplean who calls the officer’s injuries “horrific,” saying he suffered two broken eye orbital bones, head lacerations and a broken nose. “He was almost unrecognizable only minutes after the assault,” Kriplean said. “It’s nothing short of miraculous that he survived.”

According to newly-released court documents, the woman had just picked up her children from the suspect’s home at an arranged time and believed Gomez was under the influence. After leaving, she says Gomez followed her in his SUV, driving erratically, to the area of Central and Thomas. She says after they stopped, he punched out the driver’s side glass and hit her in the face.

She soon pulled up behind a patrol car and flagged down the officer. As she was explaining what had happened, Gomez reportedly walked up and told the officer to handcuff him, then put his hands behind his back and began head-butting the police car. The woman said she was scared of Gomez and began to drive away, just before the assault happened. After saying he wanted to be arrested, body cam video reportedly shows the officer trying to calm the suspect down as Gomez tried to get into the woman’s SUV, “demanding to kiss his children.” The officer then grabbed the suspect by his arms and a struggle ensued.

At least four other witnesses in the area saw what happened, one of whom said he saw the suspect body slam the officer and begin punching him. During the attack, another witness heard the suspect yell, “look what you made me do!” as the woman was driving away.

Police say Gomez fled after the attack but was soon found and arrested by other responding officers. Court documents say he then started making spontaneous comments about “taking down one of the officers.” During a later interview, Gomez reportedly admitted to being upset with the mother of his children, saying he had been drinking beers and that she left without giving him the opportunity to say goodbye the kids. He said he knew he was going to be arrested, so “I just flipped ... My rage just came out.”

He was booked into jail on multiple counts of aggravated assault and endangerment with a secured bond appearance set at $60,000. A number that Kriplean says should be much higher. “It essentially allows him to get out on ten percent. So for six thousand dollars and some collateral he can get out of jail. Our officer was beaten until an inch of his life it seems like, and it just didn’t resonate with that judge. And that’s a problem.”

The officer, who has not been identified, was released from the hospital on Tuesday night. He is recovering from his injuries at home. Tuesday afternoon, Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan released the following statement: