Two Williams police officers have resigned their positions with the police department.
A third is scheduled to serve 80 hours of suspension in the wake of an Aug. 10, 2012, incident involving the arrest of an intoxicated man.
A group, calling itself a Concerned Group of Local Citizens, has sent a letter to members of local and state government, law enforcement and the news media calling for further investigation into the matter.
Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon said the matter came to light in October when videotapes of bookings at the Williams police facility were being reviewed.
The video, according to Nixon, shows officer Will Starcevich putting a person who is in handcuffs into a chokehold after the man had spit on the officer.
The man, a transient from California who was intoxicated and combative, had been arrested at a local market, Nixon said. The man made threats of violence and struggled with officers.
Nixon stated that a chokehold on a handcuffed person, even when the person is combative, is against the department's policy. Nixon said that when he went to suspend Starcevich to conduct an investigation into the policy violation, Starcevich resigned in late October.
Nixon added that he sent information on the incident to Arizona Police Officer Training and Standards, which certifies officers to work in the state. According to POST meeting agendas, Starcevich's case has not yet come up for review.
Two other officers were identifiable as being present at the time of the incident, Nixon said.
Nixon said he initially asked the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct an investigation into the incident involving Starcevich.
One of the officers who witnessed the incident, Brandon Hernandez, was undergoing questioning in a separate internal affairs investigation being conducted by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office. Nixon said that Hernandez made inconsistent statements during his interview with CCSO investigators and a polygraph was suggested to Hernandez to help iron out the discrepancies.
Hernandez refused to take the polygraph test and resigned in early November, Nixon said.
Starcevich could not immediately be located for comment for this story. Hernandez could not be reached for comment.
With only one witness left to the incident, and with the handcuffed man who was choked not having filed a complaint, Nixon said that he notified DPS that he wouldn't be needing their services for an investigation.
The third officer, who Nixon did not identify pending the completion of his suspension, is a new officer currently in field-training status.
Nixon said the third officer was suspended because he should have reported the policy violation. The incident didn't come to light until October when the booking video was reviewed.
According to a letter from Concerned Group of Local Citizens, the group called on the Flagstaff Police Department, the sheriff's office, the Coconino County Attorney and the Attorney General to view the police report and video and launch an investigation into what they characterized as "extreme unlawful violence."
"We request you launch investigative measures immediately into this incident and see that appropriate disciplinary measures against the offender(s) is initiated. We collectively believe you will deem this incident actionable after reviewing and investigating said report and video."
The group is also concerned that the officers who resigned might be trying to seek jobs as police officers in other communities.
Nixon stated that he personally reviews all booking video out of the Williams facility.
As for policy violations within the department going unpunished, Nixon said, "It's just not going to happen and I'm not going to allow it."
Ten officers remain with the Williams Police Department, which Nixon said will not affect service. All shifts will be covered and all calls will get a response.
"This won't impact community service at all," Nixon said.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or email@example.com.