UPDATE: ALL CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST PATAKY, BARNES!
All charges have been dropped against blogger Jeff Pataky and former Phoenix Police detective David Barnes. Read the story here.
At the time, we were left scratching our heads over why the police would seize things like cable modems and routers (which, as of this posting, still hasn't been returned) while insisting they weren't trying to shut down Pataky's blog or keep him off the Internet.
Since then the Phoenix Police department has tried to indict Pataky on charges of identity theft, computer fraud, theft of a computer and harassment. None of the charges were successful.
"Co-conspirator" and former Phoenix Police Detective David Barnes was indicted for harassment and perjury in connection with the website. The final charge against Barnes, who was officially fired from his job in March, was dismissed last week.
Pataky was indicted for perjury along with Barnes but Pataky's lawyer, Jess Lorona, expects that charge to be thrown out as well.
"The whole thing is B.S. and they're just harassing [Pataky and Barnes]," Lorona said.
Lorona is representing Pataky in a large federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department.
The videos (below) were acquired through the discovery process by lawyers for Pataky and Barnes in connection with the lawsuit--and were furnished by the Arizona Attorney General.
After they were originally posted, however, the Phoenix Police Department wrote YouTube a threatening letter and the videos were removed.
The videos were made in a police witness interview room and some of the content is chilling.
Though a Phoenix Police spokesman says the department doesn't have it in for the pair, Detective Mike Polombo is quoted, early on, as saying he wanted "both [Pataky and Barnes] booked [on charges]" for (in Polombo's words) "the sullying of [his] reputation."
"This piece of [excrement]," Mike Polombo is heard saying in the video referring to Barnes, "spoke out directly about me and slandered the crap out of me."
Polombo's wife, and colleague, Phoenix Police Detective Heather Polombo can be heard telling an investigator how Pataky's website caused her "stress and anxiety at work." She told the investigator there were "5 or 6 times" she had to take off work due to her emotional state as well as excuse herself "dozens" of times to go to a nearby conference room and cry over the issue.
Pataky and his lawyer believe the videos were used as the basis for bringing criminal "harassment" claims against Barnes--charges which have since been thrown out.
According to Pataky, on advice of their lawyers, neither he nor Barnes has ever contacted the Polombos directly.
But that hasn't stopped the Phoenix Police Department from continuing to try and find creative ways to shut the website down.
Even though the City of Phoenix is cash-strapped and has been undergoing massive budget cuts in its law enforcement, there appears to be no end of cash to go after the bloggers.
We wrote the mayor and city manager asking how much money had been used, to date, to pursue Pataky and Barnes. We also asked how much money had been spent to defend the City against the lawsuits--and how the City intends to pay the judgment if Pataky and Barnes are successful.
So far there has been no response.
[Ed Note: We have offered to let the two officers involved have their say here. We've also made the same officer to Chief Harris and Mayor Gordon. If they do respond, we'll post it in the text of this article.
One nagging question we have is: we can't figure out why these videos were made in the first place? What was the rationale? What did these detectives hope to accomplish? Did anyone consider the possibility that they would be open to civil discovery or subpoena (as has happened)? It seems like a bad idea to make, in essence, a one-sided deposition without the benefit of a lawyer to say "objection [reason]."
As we said: many things about this situation leave us, and our lawyers, scratching our heads.
We have also had some comments submitted (deleted) that have contained nothing more than name-calling. We try to discourage that here. There are plenty of substantive issues to debate without resorting to pettiness.]
LANGUAGE WARNING - "R" Rated Language in this first video