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AZ Cops Say Prosecutor Gave Prison Chief Preferential Treatment

When an Arizona prosecutor and judge signed off on a probationary plea deal for the state's former prisons chief, who was charged with two felonies after an armed standoff with police, they disregarded evidence presented by Tempe police officers that contradicted the rationale for a light sentence, the Arizona Republic reports. The former prisons chief, Charles Ryan, pleaded no contest to one of the charges, disorderly conduct, and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. Judge Geoffrey Fish designated the crime as a felony but said he took into account mitigating factors, such as Ryan's "long service to the community." Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell approved the plea deal, reasoning that Ryan was too drunk to know what he was doing and that video evidence did not show Ryan pointed his gun at police when he held them at bay during the January 2022 standoff.

Victim impact letters released by the court show the extent to which police officers were certain that Ryan had pointed a gun at them and threatened their lives. Detective Michael McCasland wrote to the judge that Ryan was given several commands to drop the firearm, but he again refused to comply. “Mr. Ryan pointed the gun at myself and Det. Salameh for 15 seconds,” McCasland wrote, causing both of them to fear for their lives.

“It is not a good feeling knowing that a gun was pointed in your direction for 15 seconds,” McCasland said. “There is no legitimate excuse to point a gun at police.” The prosecution policies of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office require division chief approval “in any case where the defendant has pointed or discharged a firearm at a peace officer who was acting in the peace officer’s official capacity.” Detective Fahed Salameh wrote, “If a gang member or generally any other person had acted the same way Mr. Ryan did on January 6, 2022, they would likely be in prison.” He called Ryan’s disparate treatment “unfair” and “disheartening.”


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