Lt. Col. Heston Silbert talks about his involvement in a recent chase while off-duty

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jan 31, 2017

The Arizona Department of Public Safety's highest ranking trooper is now telling his side of the story after getting some heat for how he handled a pursuit that ended in a deadly crash along the I-17.

DPS has spent the last week refusing to answer questions about possible policy violations. 

Lt. Col. Heston Silbert spoke with ABC15 and broke down what he says happened from the moment he saw a crime occur while he was off-duty.

"When I raised my hand and upheld my oath to office to become a police officer, it wasn't a sometime thing, it was an all the time thing," said Lt. Col. Silbert.

That's why Silbert says he jumped into action, even though he wasn't working and was driving his personal truck, when he saw some suspicious activity near a work site in Gilbert.

"A guy sprinted and got into the passenger side of the truck. Then I see what looked like a construction site worker who was banging on the truck trying to prevent it from getting away," said Silbert.

29-year old Bradley Moore took off in the truck. Silbert drove by to talk to a Gilbert police officer who was doing off-duty work at the site and asked if he wanted his help. Silbert says he tried getting clarification from Gilbert dispatch on what he just witnessed.

"Can you tell me if it's a stolen vehicle? I just want to know if I have a 211 (armed robbery) suspect," said Silbert.

"No known weapons, it's not in as a stolen right now, not violent crimes, sounds like our detective witnessed what you saw, a car-jacking," said a dispatcher.

"My goal was to keep an eye on him until law enforcement could take over," said Silbert.

Questions we have been asking DPS for days include why didn't Silbert back off the minute on-duty units showed up to help him.

"My hope during this entire event was I was asking for help. I was asking people to take this over. At any point, if they would have said let "DPS 2" know that we have this, I would have backed off," said Silbert.

Silbert is DPS 2. That's how he is identified by police. Radio traffic reveals police air units making multiple attempts to get DPS 2 to back off. He claims he only got that message once and Gilbert police dispatch asked him to do something different.

"DPS radio is asking you DPS 2 to back off," said the dispatcher. 

"That's no problem as long as we got it. You have units now so we are good," said Silbert.

"One of our radios is losing radio so it is best we keep you on the line," said the dispatcher.

Sources tell ABC15 Silbert violated the department's pursuit policy and if it were anyone else, he would have been fired or demoted.

"That wouldn't have happened and I would ask you to take a look at what happened this weekend. A trooper was off-duty and stopped a wrong-way driver. For me to have walked away from the situation and driven home, I couldn't have lived with that," said Silbert.

Also another concern: why did Silbert authorize a dangerous pit maneuver during freeway speeds? Silbert says like any other law enforcement tactic, he just gave it the "ok." The trooper would have to use his or her discretion on whether it was appropriate and safe to do. 

ABC15 has put in a request for all the troopers who have violated the pursuit policy to see if there are any cases similar to Silbert's to see if those troopers were punished. 

DPS says the investigation into the case should take 60 days.