Three Phoenix police officers resigned and a fourth was demoted after a man was told “eat the marijuana or go to jail,” the city’s police chief said.
The 19-year-old man choked down a gram of weed and received several traffic tickets but avoided arrest during the traffic stop, Chief Joseph Yahner said Thursday.
Investigators are considering criminal charges for two of the former officers after the man filed a complaint about the early-morning Sept. 13 encounter, he noted. A lieutenant who failed to act after being informed of the allegations will go back to being a sergeant, Yahner said.
“The allegations against these former officers are compelling, appalling and extremely unprofessional,” Yahner said at a news conference, according to KPHO-TV. “Appropriate action has been taken.”
Yahner identified the officers who resigned as Richard Pina, Jason McFadden and Michael Carnicle, three officers serving in their first year with the department in probationary employment. First-year Lt. Jeff Farrior received the demotion to his prior seven-year position, Yahner noted.
He declined to discuss the officers’ specific roles in giving the man the choice of jail or chewing and swallowing the pot. But he noted two of them gave the twisted order and a third witnessed it.
Yahner said they pulled over the driver around 3:30 a.m. at 45th Ave. and W. McDowell Rd. The officers found a gram of weed in his car, according to the chief.
“The officers demanded that he eat the marijuana or go to jail,” Yahner said. “He ate the marijuana and was released from the scene after receiving several traffic citations.”
Yet the man said the department towed his car away, and he became sick after eating the pot, according to the chief. The three officers’ firing would have been “inevitable” if they hadn’t decided to quit the force, Yahner said, according to The Arizona Republic.
Police are still reviewing the encounter for both criminal and administrative actions against all four officers involved, he noted.
“This conduct is contrary to everything we stand for as community servants, and it undermines the good actions of the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department,” Yahner said. [Tobias Salinger]