Pinal official faces charges of assault - East Valley Tribune: Queen Creek & San Tan Valley

Pinal official faces charges of assault

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Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2006 6:17 am | Updated: 3:38 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Pinal County Constable Pat Shroyer will stand trial next month, charged with assaulting two Apache Junction residents while trying to enforce a court order in June.

Shroyer, who is running unopposed for re-election, will go to court Nov. 2 to face four misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct, criminal damage and two charges of assault. If convicted, he could face up to up to one year in jail and $4,250 in fines —but he wouldn’t automatically lose his job.

Chuck Teegarden, a spokesman for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, said the law wouldn’t prevent Shroyer from taking office for another term if he was convicted. As constable, Shroyer is responsible for serving county residents with court orders.

“The statutes are silent on this,” Teegarden said. “It’s Arizona. We have interesting laws sometimes.”

The charges stem from a June 7 incident, when Shroyer visited the mobile home of Apache Junction resident William Evans to enforce an eviction notice, according to police and court records. Shroyer then became involved in a heated dispute with Evans and Evans’ sister, Dustine Wolfe, also of Apache Junction.

Shroyer is alleged to have used abusive or offensive gestures against Evans, damaged Wolfe’s car and assaulted both of them, according to the complaint filed in Apache Junction City Court.

“It was very scary,” Wolfe told the Tribune. “I was scared for my life and so was my brother.”

Shroyer didn’t return repeated phone calls this week.

But the embattled constable was defiant during an interview with Apache Junction police after the incident, telling officers repeatedly that he was just doing his job.

“I shove a woman out of my way because she gets between me and the suspect, and we’re already having a conversation about assault?” Shroyer asked police. “That’s (expletive). Sorry guys, that’s (expletive) and you know it.”

Timothy Wright, the town attorney in Payson, was appointed prosecutor in Shroyer’s trial due to a conflict of interest with the Pinal County attorney. Wright has refused to comment on the case.

Shroyer appears to have locked up another four-year term, as nobody came forward to challenge him this election year. He was elected in 2000 and 2004 after running unopposed for constable of Pinal County Justice Court District 7, which includes Apache Junction.

All four charges Shroyer faces are misdemeanors. If Shroyer were convicted and sentenced to serve time in jail, he could remain constable through a work-release program, Teegarden said, because there isn’t a law regulating how much time constables have to spend performing their duties.

“It’s from the old days, when the constable just wasn’t a full-time job,” Teegarden said. “There’s no statutory minimum.”

According to police reports, the incident escalated almost immediately after Shroyer arrived at Evans’ home at Apache Gardens Mobile Home Park.

Evans and Shroyer got into a shouting match during which Evans became angry when Shroyer called him a “punk.”

“I says, ‘Whoa, wait a minute here,’ ” Evans told Apache Junction detectives at the time. “The punk word, I have a problem with it.”

Reports indicate Shroyer pushed Wolfe when she stepped in between the two and continued to provoke Evans, reportedly pushing him and at one point reaching for his gun.

During his interview with police, Shroyer admitted provoking Evans in order to get him to exit his vehicle. Shroyer also told police that he pushed Wolfe and later felt the door of Wolfe’s car break, as he pulled on it to prevent her from driving away.

“I have no doubt in my mind that that probably happened,” Shroyer told police.

Wolfe said her knee was injured when Shroyer pushed her and she is now undergoing physical therapy for it. She said she feared for her safety, so she fled.

Even though it appears Shroyer will be re-elected as constable, his behavior may have violated the code of conduct set forth by the Arizona Constable Ethics Committee. The committee could recommend Shroyer face the additional charge of malfeasance, and a conviction on that charge would result in his removal from office.

Phil Hazlett, vice president of the State Association of Constables, an agency that trains constables and develops legislation related to the office, said Shroyer refused to join the professional organization. Only a conviction of malfeasance or impeachment could remove the constable from office, he said.

“Unless it’s a felony, nobody can remove him from office,” Hazlett said. “If he is convicted and if he did these things on duty, the county attorney should charge him with malfeasance.”

Hazlett added that Shroyer could also lose his certification from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which allows him to carry a gun on duty.

What Pinal County Constable Pat Shroyer told police

Shroyer is charged with four misdemeanors stemming from a confrontation on June 7 with two Apache Junction residents. Afterward, he was defiant during an interview with Apache Junction police, saying he was just doing his job.

• “When you’re screaming and yelling at people, yes, spittle comes out,” Shroyer said when questioned about accusations that he spit at Dustine Wolfe, William Evans and a 2-year-old child riding in Wolfe’s car.

• “Oh, as soon as I touched her it was ‘Assault, assault!,’ “ Shroyer said of his contact with Wolfe of Apache Junction. Wolfe said she was punched in the chest, fell and now suffers from a knee injury.

• “Oh no, I opened it and I pulled him, and I pulled it open in hopes that he’d jump out,” Shroyer said of trying to pull William Evans, an Apache Junction man, from Wolfe’s car.

• “So yes, I cussed at him and called him all kinds of names in attempts to get him out of that car,” he said in reference to accusations that he provoked Evans.

• “Yeah, I just told him to get his (expletive) out of the car: ‘You want a piece of this? Come on out here — let’s do it,’ “ Shroyer said of his contact with Evans.

• “Probably so, cause when I pulled it open I had a hold of the far end of it and that’s when she backed out like a bat out of hell,” Shroyer said when questioned about damage to Wolfe’s car. “I had it for that long — I felt the door spring.”

• “And quite honestly, my treatment by this department sucks at the best,” Shroyer said of his working relationship with the Apache Junction Police Department.

SOURCE: Apache Junction Police Department

Code of conduct for constables

Canon 4, Section B: Constables shall act appropriately at all times, taking into account their duties and responsibilities as elected public officials.

“Being elected does not give a public official the right to ignore the law or treat others with indifference or disrespect. To the contrary, a public official is the servant of those who elected them to office.”

Canon 4, Section C: Constables shall be courteous, patient and respectful toward those who come in contact with their offices.

“They should be mindful of their appearance, avoid profanity and sexist remarks, and respect the rights of others. They should also act in a positive manner. In addition, constables should strive to maintain cordial relationships with judges and other public officials who rely on them for important services.”

SOURCE: State of Arizona Constable Ethics Committee

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