A Phoenix cop lost it to road rage last week. Unfortunately for him, the man he vented his anger on was a former Arizona state senator, Armando Ruiz. The confrontation has attracted nationwide attention.
Former Senator Ruiz was on his way to mass.
Ruiz was on his way to morning mass in downtown Phoenix on Monday. According to him, a passenger van swerved into his lane and cut him off. Ruiz veered to the left to avoid a collision and honked his horn. The van slowed way down, and Ruiz passed it. At that point, the driver of the van allegedly tried to ram the back of Ruiz’s car. Ruiz accelerated and a chase ensued.
Finally, the van drove around Ruiz, into his path, and forced the car off the road with the van alongside. When Ruiz looked at the passenger side window, he was staring down the barrel of a gun, held by the van’s driver. Then he noticed the badge and other police insignia that the man was wearing. He said the thought that went through his head was:
Oh my God, this is a police officer. He’s trained to shoot to kill.
Ruiz’s passenger, Monica Rivera, also thought they were going to be killed and started to pray.
With his finger on the trigger, the officer held the gun on them without saying anything. Ruiz told news reporters that it seemed like the other man was waiting for an excuse to fire, but both Ruiz and Rivera held perfectly still. Finally, the officer said:
Be careful who you honk at the next time.
As the van drove away, Ruiz copied the license plate number and called 911. The driver was subsequently identified as Phoenix officer Jeremy Sweet, who was arrested by his fellow officers on Tuesday. He was booked on suspicion of felony aggravated assault.
What makes Sweet’s apparent crime especially egregious is that he was transporting jail inmates in the van, plus he was traveling down Phoenix’s main thoroughfare. Sweet’s story is that he thought someone was trying to force him over so they could take one of the prisoners out of the van. Considering that the van was unmarked — which is why Ruiz didn’t recognize its official capacity — that excuse sounds highly suspect.
Phoenix Police Department took quick and responsible action.
At least the Phoenix Police Department isn’t trying to protect its own. As a matter of fact police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump appeared to dismiss Sweet’s excuse by saying:
He did not get on his police radio. He did not ask for assistance. He did not document this in any way. In fact, he pulled up next to the vehicle, lectured them about their driving behavior while pointing a gun at them, and continued on to jail.
Crump also sought to reassure the community with this statement:
The Phoenix Police Department takes this incident very seriously and has taken swift and appropriate action to help ensure public trust remains high. We understand our role in the community of upholding the law and anything less will never be tolerated.
That’s certainly a refreshing change from much of the police news the nation has been hearing lately. Hopefully, they’ll stick to that position as the legal situation unfolds.
Featured image by scoutnurse on Flickr Photo Share