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MCAO won't pursue criminal charges against officer accused of making threat against Phoenix mayor

Posted at 2:21 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 00:11:13-05

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says it will not file criminal charges against a Phoenix police officer accused of vowing to shoot Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego if she "defunded the police."

According to a report from the Tempe Police Department, which was asked to investigate the incident, Officer Steven Poulos in October made the threat with other officers present in a briefing room inside the Black Mountain Police Precinct. A sergeant reported that Poulos said, “If the mayor defunds the police, I’m going to shoot her.” When challenged about his seriousness Poulos replied, “That’s a promise.”

MCAO released the following statement on their decision not to pursue charges in the case:

After a thorough review of the facts and evidence in this case, the County Attorney’s Office has determined that it cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Poulos’ statements constituted a “true threat” as defined by Arizona Law and the U.S. constitution. While the statements are inexcusable, legal precedent prevents a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial and therefore, we are declining to file criminal charges in this case.

At last check, Phoenix police said their internal investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The mayor received extra security protection as a precaution after the threat was made.

"Mayor Gallego is disappointed. She appreciates the sergeant who made the initial report. The Mayor hopes this decision won’t discourage anyone from reporting a threat. It is important to speak up, be heard and be taken seriously," said Jeanine L'Ecuyer, a spokesperson for Mayor Gallego's office.

Poulos refused to talk to Tempe police during their investigation and did not respond to a phone message from ABC15.