Chief who said cops shouldn’t draw down on knife-wielding suspects quits the force
They say he created a fake Twitter account to battle trolls on social media. Now this police chief has stepped down from his department.
This week, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo would be resigning after an ongoing public battle involving a social media scandal.
But we’re not exactly sad to see him go.
It seems highly non-coincidental that del Pozo resigned following the outrage mob of his social media activity where he poked fun at a local named Charles Winkleman; whereas Winkleman would literally spend hours each day trying to harm del Pozo’s reputation and attack his character.
But the chief had some views that made us at LET question his leadership.
Del Pozo – like many other officials – had positions worth criticizing, like how he thought police shouldn’t draw guns on suspect who were threatening others with a knife. His controversial notion on knives versus guns didn’t resonate too well when mentioned earlier this year, but we hate to see someone get taken down for defending themselves online.
Regarding the Winkleman debacle, he spent day after day asking the chief to resign or be fired over the 10 tweets the chief made earlier this year referring to Winkleman as the “Chicky Troll”.
Overall, with the Thunderdome that is the Internet and its hateful comment sections, “Chicky Troll” has to be one of the tamest insults one could conjure up, yet the media responded like the chief went on some racial or gender-based epithet-laced tirade of sorts.
Quite frankly, it was almost humorous how many outlets were clutching their pearls and gasping that a police chief would fire back at a citizen via social media. A look into Winkleman’s Twitter feed shows nothing but an unhealthy obsession toward terrorizing del Pozo.
While at the press conference where Mayor Miro Weinberger announced del Pozo’s resignation, without any mention of the social media related scandal, it did seem like it was somewhat eluded to:
“With great sadness, I have accepted his decision. While I believe that del Pozo has been a truly outstanding chief, and while it was clear to me that he continued to have considerable support within the City Council, the Police Commission, the Police Department, and the community, it was also clear that if he continued to serve the days ahead would be very challenging for him, his family, the department, and the City.”
Of course, the infamous Winkleman was completely elated at del Pozo resigning, standing on a proverbial soapbox saying how it was the right thing to do:
“I think that the chief made the inevitable decision I wish the mayor had asked him to leave at the time this (Twitter account) was revealed.”
So, when one chief goes, another must step in. Yet, it was a short-lived replacement, since apparently Deputy Chief Jan Wright, who was meant to take the helm, admitted that at one point she had a Facebook profile that operated under the pseudonym of “Lori Spicer”.
Of course, Wright’s Facebook account eventually encountered the infamous Winkleman’s online rantings, to which she commented:
“Just admit it. You are obsessed with Chief Del Pozo. You can’t get enough of him. He definitely lives rent free inside your head. Seek help.”
Honestly, that’s a pretty spot-on assessment. Winkleman is so paranoid that he honestly thinks police are following him wherever he goes, as he mentioned during a council meeting where he attended.
Winkleman concluded his assessment of the elected officials present at the council meeting saying:
“You just continue to protect yourselves and your positions instead of listening to the people in this community who time and time again have said they are tired of being abused by the police in this town.”
Yet, firing back comments is hardly “abuse”.
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Still, the mayor’s announcement of del Pozo’s resignation was laced with far more accolades than anything resembling criticism of the former chief:
“Chief del Pozo was an excellent communicator with the public, and he understood the very substantial pressures and risks faced by the women and men who wear the police uniform and serve as guardians of this community. It was an honor and a privilege to serve with Chief del Pozo, and we wish him well in all his future endeavors. I will miss him greatly and I believe Burlington will as well.”
If he thinks officers should relax when it comes to a suspect holding a knife, he should see this story out of Arizona.
In December of 2016, Yesennia Gonzalez was pulled over by a deputy and a sergeant from the Pima County Sheriff for excessive speeding and was later to be found intoxicated.
When the deputy and sergeant were attempting to get Gonzalez into the back of their vehicle, she kicked the sergeant directly in the eye while wearing a high-heeled boot. The sergeant lost his eye that night and was forced to retire from his career.
Now, after three years of the suspect being on bail, the DA, Barbara LaWall, is offering a plea bargain of three years or less of probation.
A 22-year veteran of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department had his life changed forever on December 10th, 2016.
Sergeant Mark Bustamante was kicked in his left eye with the heel of a boot that night, and remembers screaming to his deputy on site, Timothy Senne, “I’m hurt”.
Yesennia Gonzalez, who was 28 at the time of her arrest, was in handcuffs and kicking in her high-heeled boots when Bustamante and Senne tried to place her in a patrol car.
After blood spilled from Bustamante’s eye, paramedics were called and he was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, Bustamante’s eye could not be saved.
Originally Gonzalez was potentially looking at more than 10 years in prison for the assault and DUI collectively and was promptly booked into the county jail.
Yet that stay in jail lasted slightly longer than two weeks, after Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Butler called the initial $300,000 bond for Yesennia Gonzalez, 28, “excessive” and lowered it $25,000.
All Gonzalez had to do was find someone to scrounge up $2,500 to post bond; which she did, and was home in time for New Years 2017.
Now, after three years, Barbara LaWall’s office is offering a plea deal which outlines a period of three years or less of simple probation. No jail, no prison, just periodic visits from a P.O. and the occasional urine test.
Her excuse? Gonzalez is blaming PTSD for kicking out a cop’s eye in with her heel.
How this information came to light was because the wife of Deputy Timothy Senne, who is also a close friend of former Sergeant Mark Bustamante, reached out to LET and asked for our help.
Therese Senne sent a message describing the current status of the case involving her husband and friend:
“On December 10, 2016 in Tucson, my husband and his former sergeant, Mark Bustamante were assaulted by Yesennia Gonzalez. She had been driving drunk and 26 miles over the speed limit when she was pulled over by another deputy. Long story short…she kicked Mark in the eye. He lost his eye and had to leave his career early.”
After looking into the case, we discovered apparently Gonzalez was more than just allegedly drunk – she was downright blitzed. During the BAC field test, she allegedly registered three times over the legal limit.
Therese Senne’s message carried on to the most troubling aspect of what the DA’s office was, or in this case, wasn’t doing:
“I wrote a letter to Barbara LaWall, County Attorney, because for the 2nd time they have decided to offer a plea deal of no more than 3 years’ probation.
For the 2nd time, they tried to advise us last minute so we do not have much time to reply.
We have court schedule this Tuesday morning when they will offset her the plea deal despite our adamant resistance. At that time I think we are allowed to give a victim’s impact speech.”
So Barbara LaWall’s office not only decided to not go to trial, but also offer a plea bargain of three years’ probation and barely give notice for impact statements to be delivered.
Mrs. Senne’s message then detailed that Gonzalez, after years of freedom and the ability to Google symptoms, was going to use a PTSD claim implying that Bustamante looked like a relative who molested her years ago.
Apparently, after seeing two psychs for roughly an hour each, on the state’s dollar, they agreed that Gonzalez might have PTSD; so the state refuses to go to trial.
I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t gotten my hands on the email sent from LaWall herself to the victims, describing in great detail why they want to only offer a probation plea deal:
“The defendant has recently been determined to be legally insane by two separate expert psychiatric witnesses and this has severely and adversely impacted the prosecution of the case and harmed its outcome and disposition.”
The long email from LaWall to the victim’s family carried seemingly empty condolences, as it completely disregarded request after request from the DA’s office to go to trial.
She then proceeded to say that they have no defense to an insanity via PTSD defense:
“If we were to proceed to trial, in the face of the two expert psychiatric witness opinions and without evidence to the contrary, the prosecutor could not ethically argue to a jury that she is not insane. A jury would then determine her to be ‘guilty except insane’”.
LaWall then had the gall to claim that it was a best case scenario for everyone involved:
“This is why we believe that accepting the defendant’s willingness to plead guilty to a Class 5 Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer, with probation available,” is, according to LaWall, the “best course of action.”
The part where it says “probation available” is a huge deal, as that’s never accidentally placed into a plea agreement. This means that after allegedly taking this man’s eye and his career, Gonzalez might have to pee in a cup once a month for a few years.
Well, I wanted to help the victims in this case anyway that I could, especially after the wife of one of those affected by the crimes that night in 2016 was asking me personally.
I let Therese Senne know that I was going to call up the DA’s office myself and let them know that I was going to ask for a comment on the offered plea.
I called the Pima County DA’s office and reached the voicemail box of an Isabel Burruel-Smutzer, who is LaWall’s executive assistant. I could have left a voicemail, but when I heard that I could call her cellphone if this was a media inquiry, well, I did just that.
So, when I called Burruel-Smutzer’s cell phone, she answered slightly winded. When I introduced myself and where I was from, Burruel-Smutzer said “I’m exercising,” and hung up the phone.
Well, that didn’t settle well with me at all, so I called right back.
This time, I didn’t bother saying “hello”, I said that I was intending to write about her boss this evening and that this was an official press inquiry regarding the Gonzalez case. Burruel-Smutzer stated she was familiar with the case, but her tone implied that I caught her attention.
I explained that I was aware of the pending plea bargain, to which even though Burruel-Smutzer said that she couldn’t discuss any pleas on the table and couldn’t confirm what was in the language. Yet somehow, she still managed to confirm that the plea I cited was spot on when she stated:
“I assume you got the plea from someone other than in our office.”
Yes, I said, I did get it from someone outside the office, I got it from the wife of a deputy who is seeking justice from her husband and friend who is scarred forever.
Burruel-Smutzer emailed her boss while I was on the phone with her and said LaWall would be on contact. While we got no word back from LaWall, the victims will be appearing this morning in court to deliver their victim impact statements.
Please, pray for the victims in this case and that justice can actually be served instead of lazily set aside.
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Published at Tue, 17 Dec 2019 16:47:35 +0000