A recent Cottonwood Police Department internal affairs investigation — into Chief Jody Fanning’s actions during a confrontation with two Cottonwood business owners — was thorough and fair, according to an Arizona Department of Public Safety report released Monday, Jan. 24.
City Manager Doug Bartosh requested DPS review the investigation because he thought an objective review of the process might help shed some light and confirm or clarify his findings and decisions, City Attorney Steve Horton said.
“A fair, impartial and thorough administrative investigation into the alleged misconduct was conducted by Sgt. Gareth Braxton[-Johnson],” the DPS report states.
It supports the internal affairs investigation’s conclusion that the chief did not engage in actionable misconduct, Horton said.
Based on the police department’s investigation vindicated by DPS, Bartosh verbally warned Fanning because of statements he made during a confrontation with the owners and one of their employees Sept. 23. Bartosh admonished Fanning on Nov. 15.
Braxton-Johnson’s findings were delivered to Bartosh on Oct. 26. Braxton-Johnson’s report states the chief accosted the driver for a local landscaping supply company Sept. 23.
Fanning stopped the vehicle because he believed it was attempting to avoid a weigh and check station located within two miles from the location of the stop. The driver initially agreed to drive to the station, but instead turned into the company’s parking lot. The lot is where the confrontation took place.
According to business co-owner Tom Mulcaire, Fanning pulled into the parking lot, exited his patrol vehicle and began yelling at the driver, cursing and accusing him of evading a weigh station checkpoint. Mulcaire claimed Fanning shoved the driver in the shoulder. Fanning denied the allegations. The internal affairs investigation did not sustain Mulcaire’s version of events.
A video taken after the confrontation was already well under way showed Mulcaire and his wife, Kami, yelling and cursing at Fanning.
“I told Jody he was trespassing and needed to get off my property,” Mulcaire said.
“You don’t run the police department any more,” Fanning reportedly said to Mulcaire. Fanning was disciplined for making this statement.
Accusations that Fanning used excessive force during the confrontation were not supported by the evidence, Braxton-Johnson’s report states.
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