The City of Phoenix is investigating allegations that a fake interview was inserted into a police officer’s discrimination case.
The officer’s attorney and the Phoenix’s rank-and-file police union said the allegations are “disturbing” and point to larger issues within the city’s Equal Opportunity Department, or EOD.
“It’s a very big deal,” said attorney Stephen Montoya. “That’s either gross sloppiness at best or a lie at worst.”
Montoya represents Officer Kiley Venard, a 13-year police veteran who has a clean record and is well-known for her work on animal cruelty cases.
Venard filed a discrimination complaint against her supervisor, Sgt. Giorgi Chiappo. The complaint alleged multiple instances of discrimination and retaliation, records show.
Chiappo has a history of discrimination complaints, including city settlements paid out to plaintiffs.
But in Venard’s case, the allegations were unsubstantiated.
“I thought it was a cover-up,” Montoya said.
In the final investigative report, it includes direct statements from Officer David Salgado that were damaging to Venard’s case. Salgado’s name also appears on a list of witnesses the city claimed to have interviewed during the investigation.
However, ABC15 has learned that Salgado denied that he was ever interviewed and that the statements attributed to him weren’t factual and were made up.
Salgado declined to speak to ABC15.
But Montoya and union officials told ABC15 that they spoke directly with Salgado, who is adamant that he wasn’t interviewed.
“That smacks of somebody, somewhere fabricated information and put it in an official report ,” said Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.
In May, Crane sent a letter to City Manager Ed Zuercher.
He called the situation “disturbing” and asked for an investigation. Zuercher responded by saying the matter was turned over to the City Auditor’s Office to be investigated.
City officials expect the investigation to be complete in September, Crane said.
ABC15 has reviewed legal records that show after Venard’s investigation was finalized with EOD investigators it was sent for review by the city’s legal department.
Crane said it’s critical the city finds out how and when in the process this interview was added.
“If false or fabricated information was inserted into that report, when did it occur and who did it?” Crane said.
After Venard’s EOD complaint was closed without action, she filed a federal lawsuit against the city. That case recently settled.
In an email, a city official sent the following statement:
“The city’s Equal Opportunity Department values and respects all employees and residents. EOD staff conducts a thorough investigation into every allegation that is brought forward to the department. At this time the city is reviewing the referred allegation and is not able to comment on it,” Don Logan, director, Equal Opportunity Department.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.