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Former Phoenix police officer 'secretly recorded' women during police stops

ARMOUR ON STAND PIC.jpg
Posted at 10:31 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 22:03:47-05

A former Phoenix Police officer, who’s on the Brady list and has been accused of multiple sexual assaults, testified he privately recorded police interactions with women for years on his personal phone.

Anthony Armour made the surprising admission during cross-examination in a civil trial last month.

One alleged victim’s attorney is now demanding that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office audit his cases and notify defendants about the potential of hidden evidence that was never disclosed.

FULL DISCLOSURE: INVESTIGATING ARIZONA’S BRADY LISTS

“This is a former police officer, who has been credibly accused of sex assault by numerous women,” said Steven Benedetto, the attorney who cross-examined Armour. “He’s been credibly accused of abusing his power and treating women disrespectfully. And now, we hear at trial under oath, that he has other recordings of women on his phone, and not only that those recordings were never entered into evidence, but never deleted, and we’re hearing this for the first time. I do have concerns about those women’s safety.”

Benedetto represents JeAnna Anderson.

After a 2015 traffic stop, Anderson filed a lawsuit claiming Armour groped and fondled her after he pulled her over for a recently-expired vehicle registration.

Anderson lost her case after a four-day trial that ended Friday. The jury found Anderson’s team did not prove Armour sexually assaulted her.

Armour, who retired under an accidental disability claim within the last year, wasn’t wearing a body camera.

Police investigators also didn’t obtain surveillance video from nearby businesses or attempt to interview any outside witnesses.

The existence of any recording from the incident was a mystery until the third day of trial.

Based on trial transcripts, here are portions of Armour’s testimony:

Q: And you didn’t audio-record your interaction with Ms. Anderson, did you?
A: I would have audio-recorded when she was alone with me in the vehicle.
__
Q: What did you do with that recording?
A: It was on the phone I had at the time. I ended up — that phone ended up not working any more so I had to upgrade.
Q: You never provided that recording to anyone in this case did you?
A: The recording wasn’t able to be accessed once my phone stopped working.

Q: Sometime prior to the interaction with Ms. Anderson, you grew concerned about having false accusations made against you by a female detainee?
A: Yes.
Q: And so you started recording interactions with female detainees?
A: Yes.

Armour testified he did not tape the initial part of the stop, which is when Anderson accused him of sexual assault. Instead, he said he began recording after she was placed in the back of his police vehicle.

Before trial, Armour never disclosed he had any audio of the incident.

The former officer also didn’t reveal its existence or impound it as evidence in the criminal investigation of Anderson or an internal and criminal investigation into her allegations.

Benedetto sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel informing her office about Armour’s admission and demanding that they take several actions.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“There may be hundreds or thousands of recorded stops and interactions with women, who were later convicted or pled guilty to offenses based on officer armor’s testimony, and they never knew that recording existed,” Benedetto said in an interview with ABC15.

Benedetto has filed a notice of appeal in Anderson’s case.

The judge did not allow Anderson’s attorneys to deeply cross-examine Armour in front of the jury about his surprise admission, including questioning him about why the recording was never entered into evidence and how it’s against department policy to use personal devices.

Those details are just two of several pieces of evidence and information jurors weren’t allowed to hear. Before trial, Judge John Tuchi precluded:

  • Evidence about Armour’s placement on the “Brady list” for lying about the false arrest of another woman.
  • Testimony from another woman, a female Phoenix police officer, who also accused Armour of sexual assault.
  • Information about a previous complaint alleging Armour let a woman exchange sex for having charges dropped.

Attorneys for Armour and the City of Phoenix continually called Anderson a liar during the trial.

The defense focused on parts of her story that have changed in the five years since the traffic stop. One discrepancy is what hand Anderson said Armour used to grope her. A second difference is the order in which she claimed he groped her breast and stuck his hands in her pants.

Anderson’s attorneys said the discrepancies are caused by how trauma affects her memory of the incident.

ABC15 has been reporting on Armour for the last several months as part of a larger series on Arizona’s Brady lists.

The lists track officers with integrity concerns, including past lies and crimes.

Following ABC15’s reports, the state police board has re-opened a case against Armour’s certification and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is taking another look at his past sex assault allegations.

Armour and the City of Phoenix are also facing a separate lawsuit for the former officer's conduct.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.