Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Times: Pinal County Deputy's Claim of Being Shot by Drug Smugglers "Doesn't Add Up"

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:09 PM

Paul Rubin of the Phoenix New Times digs into the case of Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Louie Puroll, who said he came under fire from drug smugglers last April:

The odds that Louie Puroll is telling the truth about what happened to him on April 30 are slim.

"This is not a he-said, she-said case," says Tucson private investigator Weaver Barkman, a retired homicide sergeant for the Pima County Sheriff's Office who analyzed the Puroll case at the request of New Times. "This is about what the evidence says."

In Barkman's view, the evidence says, "Deputy Puroll's claims and versions are not supported by the physical, anecdotal, and behavioral evidence that I have reviewed. Several claims are in direct conflict with the physical evidence. There is, in my view, insufficient evidence to establish probable cause that on the afternoon of Friday, April 30, 2010, [no] person or persons, other than Deputy Puroll, were present at or in the immediate vicinity of this shooting scene."

And if the deputy is telling the truth, says Scottsdale forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, "You have a stunningly inept multi-jurisdictional response [on April 30] in addition to dealing with some really intelligent, athletic, and damned lucky smugglers."

Add to that a criminal investigation by Pinal County sheriff's detectives that was seemingly designed solely to clear their colleague Puroll.

"Our deputy says this happened, and there's evidence out there to support that it happened," Sergeant Hausman insists. "The facts are the facts."

But others interpret the facts quite differently from Hausman.

Dr. Michael Baden, co-director of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigation Unit and former chief medical examiner for New York City, analyzed police photographs of Puroll's gunshot wound and concludes:

"I don't see what the problem is in calling this a close-contact wound. I don't know who did it, but the weapon was either touching this man or was within a couple of inches. It's pretty straightforward. It clearly is not a shot from a distance."

Puroll said in his May 3 interview with investigators that he was shot from about 25 yards away, not point-blank range.

Read the whole thing here.

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