East Valley Tribune (Mesa, Arizona)
BYLINE: Mike Sakal, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.
State board rules that he threw away evidence, lied about it
Feb. 7--The law-enforcement certification of a former Mesa police officer was revoked by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board for his role in disposing of potential evidence confiscated from a shoplifting suspect and lying about it.
The certification of former officer Aaron D. Adams was revoked by the board on Jan. 20, and he no longer can be a law-enforcement officer in the state, according to Robert Irish, compliance manager for the board.
Irish said Friday that the incident involving Adams took place on Jan. 24, 2009, and he resigned from the Mesa Police Department less than a month later, before the department had a chance to discipline him.
Adams, who had been with the Mesa Police Department from Feb. 21, 2007 to Feb. 10, 2009, responded to a Mesa Walmart on a shoplifting call with another officer who arrested the suspect. After transporting the woman to the booking station, a detention officer confiscated items -- including a vial of liquid the inmate said could have been methamphetamine, a necklace and a pair of earrings from the woman -- and gave them to Adams who ultimately threw them in the trash, according to Irish.
The detention officer placed the items in a plastic bag and handed it to Adams to be placed in evidence, but when the arresting officer went to the evidence room, it was not there. When an internal investigation began against the detention officer as to whether she properly searched the inmate, Adams was questioned about the evidence and said he couldn't remember whether he left the items in his cruiser or threw away the bag.
While being questioned during an internal investigation a second time, Adams said he threw the items away because they didn't have any identifying marks on them that they were from Walmart and it could not have been proven the earrings were from the store.
He also said no one told him that the liquid could have been meth.
Irish said a compliance officer began investigating the incident in October.
"The board has taken a very firm stance on lying to another officer during an investigation," Irish said. "It's an integrity issue."
Adams can appeal the board's decision within 35 days or request another hearing, Irish said.
CONTACT WRITER: (480) 898-6533 or
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"