Flagstaff Police Department
Flagstaff Police Department
This website has been created for the purpose of Transparency within our agency and the community we serve. Transparency can be thought of as being honest and open. The purpose of this site is to provide you with our policies, procedures, media releases and allow access to video footage of specific critical incidents taken by our department.
Video of Press Conference of Chief Kevin Treadway
Video of Press Conference of Chief Kevin Treadway
Press Conference by Chief Kevin Treadway
January 4, 2017 at 4:30 P.M.
Press Conference by Chief Kevin Treadway
January 4, 2017 at 4:30 P.M.
Thank you for this opportunity. First, let me say that in addition to today’s rather lengthy prepared statement which you all have a copy of, the Flagstaff Police Department intends to post copies of this investigation to the FPD Transparency web site immediately following today’s press conference. I am confident that all of your questions regarding this investigation and what has transpired will be answered in those documents.
Again, thank you for this opportunity to provide an update on an incident that occurred on November 16th, with Officer Bonar of the Flagstaff Police Department. On that date, Officer Bonar arrested Marissa Morris for aggravated assault and resisting arrest following a stop and detention he made regarding warrants he believed she had at that time. During this detention, a struggle occurred. Acquaintances of Marissa began filming the encounter, and a video of the incident was recorded showing Bonar striking Miss Morris in the face. This video was released later that day on social media. The warrants Bonar originally contacted her for were later found to have been served on October 18th, 2016. Marissa was booked that day for aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Upon learning of the video and what it depicted, the Flagstaff Police Department immediately suspended Officer Bonar and he has been on administrative leave since that time. An Internal Affairs investigation and separate criminal investigation was launched immediately.
I. In Today’s statement, I will be referring to findings solely related to the administrative investigation performed by the Flagstaff Police Department. The Northern Arizona University Police Department has been conducting the criminal investigation into possible assault charges on Officer Bonar. Additionally, a criminal investigator with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has been reviewing the initial investigation plus any additional investigation performed by NAUPD in order to determine any recommended criminal charges on Miss Morris from this incident. The criminal case investigated by the NAU Police Department against Officer Bonar’s actions has been submitted to the Coconino County Attorney’s Office for review. They have conflicted this case and have sent it to the Mohave County Attorney’s Office. We have not received the findings from that review at this time. The charges against Miss Morris once again have been reviewed and prepared by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and have also been submitted to the Coconino County Attorney for review. We have no update on this review either. The Flagstaff Police Department has not formally filed charges on Miss Morris from the arrest by Officer Bonar because additional information into this matter was being gathered and we felt that it was only ethical that we include this additional information before the case on Miss Morris was formally charged. As NAUPD is acting on Miss Morris’s behalf as a potential victim of a crime, it made no sense that they also review the case for formal charging against her, thus the request was made for CCSO to conduct that review.
II. I appreciate the patience shown by my community during the course of these investigations. The investigations have taken longer than expected due largely to delays in meeting with witnesses in order to conduct interviews. This was out of our control. We have also been very careful to assure that the rights of all parties involved have been protected. I have served this community for thirty years as a law enforcement officer, and consider this to be one of my chief responsibilities. By way of explanation, the administrative investigation conducted by the Flagstaff Police Department and NAUPD are parallel but separate investigations. All information gathered by NAUPD can be used by the Flagstaff Police Department in the administrative investigation, however information gathered in the administrative investigation by Flagstaff PD cannot be shared. This is because we compel statements from the Officer in our investigation. Peace officers are citizens of the United States and are afforded the same rights as any other citizen. Because we compel our employees to provide us statements, these statements, by law, cannot be shared when a criminal investigation is also being conducted. Officer Bonar participated with both investigations, providing statements to both the criminal and administrative investigators. Today’s remarks will be limited to those statements he provided to NAUPD in the criminal investigation in order to continue to protect the rights afforded to him in the compelled statements collected in the administrative investigation. Officer Bonar also has rights under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights found under Arizona Revised Statutes 38-1101 through 38-1112. These rights govern the way we must conduct the internal investigation.
III. The administrative investigation reviewed several possible policy violations on the part of Officer Bonar, and we reviewed carefully the level of force and reasonableness used in this encounter. The criteria used in determining findings in this investigation are the policies, rules and regulations of the Flagstaff Police Department and supporting case law.
IV. On November 16th, 2016, at the time Officer Bonar contacted Miss Morris, he possessed information that led him to believe she had two warrants. This information was derived from an incident he was involved in on October 18th, which is documented in a report with the Flagstaff PD. He saw a photograph of Miss Morris on October 18th, and on November 16th, after being called to assist CCSO Deputy Winchester with an eviction, he recognized Miss Morris as he was preparing to leave the scene. Officer Bonar approached her, advised he thought she had a warrant, and asked to speak further with her. According to Bonar and others, Miss Morris stated she did not have warrants and walked away. Bonar grabbed Miss Morris, and for a short time they began struggling. During this interaction Bonar states she kneed him in the groin. This was not captured on the video recording later shared on social media.
V. In Officer Bonar’s initial contact, he was acting in good faith on the reasonable belief that Miss Morris had warrants for her arrest that were still valid. The law allows officers to make stops and brief detentions in the effort to further investigate possible criminal activity. Bonar could not recall Miss Morris’s name or date of birth, and was attempting to detain her in order to obtain this information and run her through the computer in order to determine if the warrants were valid and confirmed.
A. I believe both parties, Miss Morris and Officer Bonar had options in this incident.
1. Miss Morris could have complied with Officer Bonar’s lawful request to stop, provide her name and DOB. She was informed that Officer Bonar thought she had warrants. She would have been run in the computer, the warrants determined to have been cleared, and in a relatively short time period she would have been released.
2. Miss Morris had no right under the law to resist this lawful detention.
3. On Officer Bonar’s part, he could have pursued other options to determine Miss Morris’s name, and perhaps run her before making contact, especially since his information on the warrants was dated. The findings that the warrants had been cleared would have eliminated the need for contact. Bonar also could have dis-engaged at any time in order to conduct further follow up, especially when Miss Morris and several others were indicating she did not have a warrant. He also could have done a better job of verbally de-escalating this situation. The Flagstaff Police Department promotes de-escalation techniques and these measures were certainly an option for Officer Bonar.
VI. Our administrative investigation reviewed several possible policy violations on Officer Bonar and very generally, I will share those we have sustained.
A. We have sustained policy violations of unreasonable and excessive force by Officer Bonar. The level of resistance by Miss Morris during this incident did not warrant the head strikes used by Officer Bonar.
B. As a part of our administrative investigation we also reviewed our policy governing the use of the body camera. It is clear that Officer Bonar’s body camera was not activated when he approached Miss Morris. According to our policies, this is a violation. As a Chief who brought body cameras to this department and community, I understand the importance of the proper use of this technology. I have said many times however, that just because an encounter is not on body camera, does not automatically conclude an officer is not telling the truth. I have also advocated for an understanding in those rare occasions where an officer during immediate exigency is confronting a life-threatening situation where they need to pay more attention to a violent subject or the incident than to the activation of the camera. I never want to attend the funeral of an officer because they were more concerned with turning on the camera than being aware of their surroundings in those relatively rare situations. There are continuing advancements in this technology and I am confident there will be a day where manual activation of the camera will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, I will continue to insist that our officers adhere to our policies regarding the body cameras. In this situation, Officer Bonar shut off his camera after arriving to consult with Deputy Winchester. This is allowable under our policy. He then failed to re-activate the camera when he and Deputy Winchester contacted individuals related to the eviction and again when Bonar approached Miss Morris. I find no excuse for him not activating his camera and it is a clear violation of our policies.
VII. As a part of the disciplinary policies of the City of Flagstaff, my command staff reviews violations of policy and forwards to me a recommendation for discipline. In this case, their recommendation was for termination. On December 27, 2016, Mr. Bonar was informed in writing of a notice of recommendation for termination and a pre-determination hearing was scheduled with me this afternoon. At this meeting, Mr. Bonar would have been afforded the opportunity to present his views on the findings to me. I would have taken his presentation under advisement and then would have made a final determination on the discipline. At 9:30 this morning, before the scheduled pre-determination hearing, Officer Bonar tendered his resignation effective immediately. In the City of Flagstaff Personnel policies and according to due process, an employee has a right to voluntarily resign at any time prior to a pre-determination meeting and the resignation was accepted.
The Flagstaff Police Department has concluded its administrative review and findings regarding Mr. Bonar’s actions. I have read this report and its findings. I am confident in the thoroughness and accuracy of that investigation. This investigation will remain on file as a matter of record with our office. Additionally, we have a professional and ethical obligation to report Mr. Bonar’s separation from our Department and our investigation to the AZ Peace Officer Standards and Training Office, also known as POST. POST is the Office governing the certification of Peace officers in the State of AZ. We will cooperate fully with the POST Board in any review they deem necessary in this case.
A.)Mr. Bonar’s actions in this case are not consistent with the culture of our fine agency, our training, our mission, our Oath of Office, our values and our policies. We remain as always committed to professional policing, and Mr. Bonar’s conduct is not reflective of the way we police in this community. I understand that the public confers legitimacy only on those whom they believe are acting in procedurally just ways.
B.)As promised, reports pertaining to this investigation will be posted to the website we created which is found at http://fpdtransparency.com Those reports will include the investigations conducted by both the Northern AZ Police Department, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and our own administrative investigation. There will be a few sections of our investigation redacted once again to protect Mr. Bonar’s rights and to adhere to our requirements under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights found under ARS 38-1101 through 38-1112.
VIII. I want to also assure my community that our Department works hard to police professionally and prevent isolated incidents like this from occurring. The Flagstaff Police Department conducts full and complete background investigations on all officers hired and we maintain very high standards. We have best practice policies, and train regularly on the application of those policies.
IX. I will conclude by thanking the Northern AZ University Police Department and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office for their professionalism and assistance. As a law enforcement professional I understand we must enhance the trust between the police and the communities we are privileged to serve. As law enforcement professionals we have the responsibility to do what is right, and we are expected to get it right every time. This is a sad case where trust between the police and community was impacted and a law enforcement career ended early, but the incident is not reflective of the professional hard working people of my agency or the high standards this department sets for professional policing in our community. I would like to thank the citizens of the City of Flagstaff for their patience with this process, their understanding of the rights of all involved and their continued support for our officers.
X. I will entertain a few questions but may likely refer you to the large number of reports we are posting for sake of accuracy.
Kevin Treadway, Chief, Flagstaff Police Department