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Former prison director Charles Ryan pleads not guilty in weapons case

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 22:42:30-04

TEMPE, AZ — Charles Ryan, the former director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry, pleaded not guilty to felony charges stemming from a January shooting incident in Tempe.

Ryan appeared by video conference in a Maricopa County courtroom for an arraignment hearing Tuesday. The judge ordered Ryan to be fingerprinted, to not consume alcohol or drugs, and to not possess guns pending trial. Trial was tentatively set for November.

In May, Ryan was indicted on one count of disorderly conduct with a weapon and one count of unlawful discharge of a weapon. Both charges are considered Class 6 dangerous offenses. Class 6 felonies are the lowest level of felony, but they can be punished by a prison sentence.

On January 6, Tempe police officers were called to a home near Rural and Warner roads for reports of a shooting.

Once officers got to the home, Ryan opened a door to his garage and allegedly pointed a gun at officers, which prompted authorities to "use less lethal force," officials said. Authorities were unable to bring Ryan into custody at that point, and negotiators and tactical teams were called to the scene.

Just over three hours after police arrived on scene, Ryan exited the home. Crews transported Ryan to a local hospital under police watch for a suspected bullet wound to his hand that Tempe officials say was self-inflicted.

Ryan was the director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry until he retired in 2019 following ABC15's "Unlocked and Unsafe" investigation that exposed cell door issues at Arizona's Lewis Prison.

Ryan also received lesser criminal charges than people in similar confrontations involving police and guns. His case has prompted the ABC15 Investigators to examine whether there is an imbalance of justice in the Maricopa County Attorney's charging decisions.

Got a news tip? Email ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.