No verdict yet in case of Arizona officer who killed unarmed man, dog

Robby Soave Reporter
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A jury continued to deliberate the fate of Arizona police officer Richard Chrisman, who stands accused of aggravated assault, animal cruelty and murder for shooting an unarmed man and his dog in October 2010.

Chrisman and his partner, Sergio Virgillo, responded to a domestic disturbance report at a trailer park in South Phoenix, where 29-year-old Danny Frank Rodriguez lived with his mother. The mother said that Rodriguez had become angry and thrown an object through the wall of the trailer, according to local news reports.

According to Virgillo’s testimony, Chrisman held his gun against Rodriguez’s head without cause to do so. He then shot and killed Rodriguez’s dog, sending the man into a frenzy. Neither Rodriguez nor the dog posed any threat, said Virgillo.

Chrisman accused his partner of lying abut the facts, and claimed that Rodriguez held a bicycle over his head and threatened to attack. Chrisman then shot him to death.

Prosecuting attorney Juan Martinez called the bicycle claim farcical.

“It’s impossible for the bicycle to have been used in that fashion that he described,” he said in his closing statements earlier this week. “The forensic evidence says it wasn’t. The medical evidence says it wasn’t, and it just makes no sense that this individual could raise it so high and hold it up like this. Why not just push it that way?”

Chrisman’s lawyer argued that Virgillo was frightened of the dog and did not remain inside the trailer long enough to witness what really happened.

The most serious charge — second-degree murder — carries with it a sentence of 15-22 years in prison, but could be reduced to 10. An aggravated assault conviction could put Chrisman away for 5-15 years. The animal cruelty charge carries no jail time, according to The Huffington Post.

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