Anyone that’s visited the site for any length of time can tell you that I’m a big supporter of law enforcement. These guys, from the desk clerks and dispatchers to the vice squads and beat cops put their lives on the line on a daily basis in order to keep us safe. A wise man said (fuck if I know who) with great power comes great responsibility. That applies particularly to the people that we hire to protect us.
“Protect and Serve”
The motto for many police departments around the country.
Unfortunately with any job, including law enforcement, there will always be a few people that think they can bend and break the rules but when it comes to police officers breaking the rules can have devastating effects as they have for the Arambula family.
A little over a year ago, on September 17th 2008, Angel Anastacio Canales came crashing through the front window of the home belonging to the Arambulas and ran into one of the bedrooms. Concerned for their children Anthony Arambula held the man at gunpoint while he called 911 and his wife and two children ran from the home.
Phoenix Police officers were already in the neighborhood, having responded to an armed intruder call and heard the crash from the front window. When they arrived at the house Lesley Arambula told Sergeant Sean Coutts that her husband was inside the house holding the intruder at gunpoint. Coutts didn’t pass the information along to the two officers, Brian Lilly and Dzenan Ahmetovic entering the house, either because there was no time or because he didn’t think it was relevant.
Once inside the house Officer Brian Lilly shot Anthony Arambula in the back six times, twice when he was already lying on the ground bleeding. Arambula was still on the phone with 911 which recorded everything the officers said after that. Once they had shot the homeowner, then the officers took the time to assess the situation. Lilly’s first words were “fuck”. They never identified themselves. Just “FUCK”. One of them said “You just killed…you just killed the homeowner. The bad guy is in there”.
Officer Lilly can also be heard on the tape telling Sgt Coutts, “We fucked up” Coutts response? “That’s all right. Don’t worry about it. I got your back…We clear?”
At that point the officers dragged Anthony out onto the backyard patio and left him bleeding in front of his wife and two sons until they got around to dragging him through the gravel by one leg, put him on top of the hood of a squad car and drove him down the street.
Afterward the Phoenix Police Department allegedly treated the family like criminals. They refused to give the family any information as to his condition, instructed the hospital to make sure and tell nobody Arambula was in the hospital and refused to give family or friends access to him at the hospital, refusing to let them go to the hospital for four hours…
According to the attorney for Arambula “Physically it would have been impossible for Lilly to see Tony’s face or the gun. They admit on the 911 call that they didn’t warn him” (Although I have seen one account that they shouted POLICE as they entered the home). Lilly admitted he didn’t see the gun but later on in an internal affairs investigation said he did.
Rather than suck it up and admit they made a mistake and worry about damage control that way, the Phoenix PD participated in the cover up. Officers visited the gun dealer where Anthony purchased his gun and allegedly suggested that Arambula may have illegally obtained weapons, trying to damage his reputation.
The latest horseshit in this entire debacle is that the Phoenix Use of Force Board determined that Officer Brian Lilly acted within police policy during the incident and cleared him of any wrongdoing. The accidental shooting is just that (accidental) from what I understand, but the actions of the officers beginning within seconds of the shooting clearly are not and tarnish the reputation of police officers all over the country. That’s why I wrote this.
I’m not a real big fan of lawsuits, considering most of them to be stupid, frivolous and the cause of a lot of our insurance problems but the Arambulas have sued the city of Phoenix along with all three officers. Attorneys for the Arambula family attempted earlier this year to get a pretty large settlement but that didn’t work out. Now they are in court and I think that once this is all said and done the City of Phoenix will wish it had settled.
So with Canales being the criminal who entered the home and Lilly being the officer who shot Anthony Arambula why do I choose to title the article as I did? Sgt Sean Coutts is in a position of responsibility and as the acting supervisor on the scene to the two police officers he could have chosen to nip it in the bud when it happened and handle the situation in a professional manner which would reflect upon his training. Rather than choose to do that he perpetuated a cover-up which leaves me wondering just why in the fuck he’s still a sergeant for the Phoenix Police Department.
Originally I had posted Coutts’ MySpace page and picture but I removed them before publishing this article because I feel like that would be a big disservice. His friends and family don’t deserve the attention they are probably already getting from his bad choice.
There are literally thousands of law enforcement officers around the country and even within the Phoenix PD that do a great job and truly live the values that they claim to represent. Unfortunately we only hear about the few bad apples that make really bad decisions in the line of duty. That’s one of the reasons that 90% of what I post is about the bad guys that they catch.