Bitch-Slapped By A Bigshot?

Naydene Miller And Her Son David Allege Tucson Police Lied And Covered Up For Tucson's City Manager.

By Vicki Hart

"This is no secret. The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen and channels Four, Nine and 13 all have the information, and they've all found there's really nothing here and you'll probably find the same thing and won't write about it. The only purpose in publicizing it would be to embarrass the City Manager."

--Lt. Bill Richards, Tucson Police Department

IT WOULDN'T BE us embarrassing City Manager Luis Gutierrez--he managed to do that all by himself, apparently with a little help from his family and friends. And since, as Richards says, it's no secret, we're happy to share what we know.

Currents Gutierrez and his family have lived across the street from Naydene Miller and her family since the 1960s. There's never been any love lost between the families; for the most part, it appears they ignore each other.

But a few years back, Miller's son Damon found his cat had been shot and killed with a pellet gun. Other animals and pigeons in the neighborhood were also injured or killed, says Damon, who believes the Gutierrez family was responsible. In particular, he singles out Luis' daughter Annette, claiming she'd been complaining about his cat leaving footprints on her car shortly before its untimely demise.

Damon Miller says he wrote letters complaining about the situation to the City Council, and even called City Councilman Steve Leal, who's Gutierrez's next-door neighbor. He says he was put off by the bigwigs.

Damon, now 41, admits that since the incident, he makes a point of harrassing Annette whenever he's visiting his mom. Among other rude remarks, he often asks if she's killed any cats lately.

On Mother's Day, May 11, 1997, Damon was dining at his mother's house. He recalls that he was outside and saw Annette and her husband getting into a car. Damon asked if Annette had killed any cats lately and called her "a fucking cunt."

Annette's husband, Rodney, yelled back, "I'll be back to kick your ass," as they left, Damon recalls.

[Annette and Rodney's last name is also Miller, but they are not related to Damon and Naydene. We will only refer to Damon and Naydene as "the Millers" throughout this tacky tale.]

When Naydene Miller heard her son's altercation with Annette and Rodney, she asked him what had happened. When he explained the situation, she admonished him, reminding him she had to live near the Gutierrezes. According to both Naydene and Damon Miller, about 10 minutes later they heard someone banging on the front door. There, according to Damon, was City Manager Luis Gutierrez Sr.

"Step out here," Damon recalls Gutierrez saying. By now Naydene says she was near the front door, too, and saw Damon step out onto the porch. Naydene says she also saw eight other people from the Gutierrez clan--including Gutierrez's wife Maria, his brother Richard, and his son Gabe--standing in her yard.

According to Damon and Naydene, as Damon stepped out, Luis Sr. said, "You called my sister"--rather than "daughter"--"a fucking cunt. I'm going to kill you." They claim the City Manager began slapping Damon with both hands in the face.

Damon says he was hit at least five times, and that Gutierrez grabbed and twisted his finger. Damon claims he didn't fight back and Gutierrez finally ceased. But both Millers claim Gutierrez continued to say, "I'm going to kill you."

Naydene says she ordered everyone to leave her property and told them she was calling the police. She says she called the Tucson Police Department and told them, "Your city manager is beating up my son and threatening to kill him." She says she gave the police Gutierrez's name.

Naydene says the Gutierrezes retreated to the edge of her property. She claims Guiterrez told her, "If your son ever calls her a name again, I'll kill him." She says Luis' brother Richard was also threatening and insulting Damon. Naydene says the Gutierrezes then left her property and turned out the lights at their home. Most of them left in cars.

Naydene says she and Damon waited for the police for a long time, during which they observed that a police car was parked across the street and that officers were taking to members of the Gutierrez family. Naydene found this odd, since she had called 911. She says when officers Bill Penta and Steve Norris finally came over, they acted as if the incident was Damon's fault. She also recalls they kept referring to Luis Jr., Gutierrez's son, as if he were the one who'd hit Damon. She says she and Damon told them Luis Sr., not his son, had assaulted Damon. Naydene says they hadn't even seen Luis Jr. that night.

Then Naydene realized that at her front door, Luis Sr. had been saying, "You called my sister a fucking cunt." Perhaps, she reasons, Luis Sr. was trying to pretend that it was his son that had come to the Miller's door.

The police questioned Damon about the incident and he admitted to calling Annette a name; he described what happened and said he wanted to prosecute. Police noted a scratch on Damon's nose, which he attributed to the blows from Luis Sr.

The next day, TPD Det. Tom Ralston contacted the Millers. His taped conversations with Damon Miller reveal a contrite man who says he "regrets the whole ugly incident." He asks the detective to convey his apologies to Annette. Ralston tells him, "Generally if people feel like it's over with and resolved, there are no charges," adding that the Gutierrezes won't press charges over the incident with Annette. Today, Damon says he knew his mom had to live there, so he agreed to make peace and not prosecute for assault.

Naydene Miller begins her taped statement by saying she's still upset over the events of the previous night, which she recounts. She tells Ralston she's "seriously thinking about getting a restraining order against Luis Sr., because I'm very upset."

In a second call to Naydene, Ralston asks if her son let her know he didn't want to pursue the matter; he also tells her the Gutierrezes don't want to prosecute. Naydene says she's also decided to let the matter go.

Neither of the Millers ever requested, or received, a police report.

Case closed, right?

WRONG. MORE than a year later, the police reports of the incident have surfaced.

And the Millers are incensed.

They insist the reports are not a true account of what happened. They want the record set straight.

According to the report, Naydene called the Tucson Police Department to report that "their kids are threatening to kill her son." And, the report adds, she "doesn't know who said it."

Naydene says she told the 911 operator it was City Manager Luis Guiterrez, and that she knew it was him.

The Millers scoff at the police report, which reads: "As Luis knocked on Damon's door, Damon lunged at Luis, assaulting him, so Luis defended himself."

And they note that in the report, Officer Penta says, "I spoke to Richard, Marcella, Luis Jr. and Maria, who all indicated that they didn't see who was assaulted first." The Millers claim all of those people, with the exception of Luis Jr., were standing right there in the yard.

The police report reads that "Neither Annette or Rodney want to prosecute for the disorderly conduct," and that "Luis Sr. also does not want to prosecute for the assault." Naydene wonders how the Gutierrezes became the victims, when she's the one who called 911.

Ralston's supplemental report, filed May 13, 1997, and closed that day, lists the victims as Annette, Rodney and Luis Gutierrez.

"There is clearly probable cause for an arrest of Damon Miller for disorderly conduct, based on his admission of calling Annette the name he did," Ralston concludes. "There are no unbiased accounts or clear accounts of what occurred at the front door of the Miller home."

Arizona Revised Statute 13-2904 says a disorderly conduct arrest is possible "if a person, with the intent to disturb the peace or quiet, uses offensive language or gestures to any person in a manner likely to provoke immediate retaliation."

The Millers say they don't believe that applies to the situation. Damon insulted Annette, not Luis Sr. Then, a full 10 to 15 minutes later, Luis Sr., not Annette, pounded on Naydene Miller's door--certainly not the "immediate retaliation" required by the statute.

Damon says he tried to complain to TPD Internal Affairs and Liana Perez, Tucson's independent police auditor. He also called the Mayor and Council's Hotline, but he only heard back from Councilman Jerry Anderson.

The Millers also received copies of their taped statements, but were surprised to find the Gutierrezes' statements had apparently never been taped.

When The Weekly contacted City Manager Luis Gutierrez Sr., he declined to comment. He referred a reporter to the police reports and asked if she had spoken with Lt. Richards.

Attempts to contact the officers who answered the 911 call that night met with no success. Sources say Officer Norris had wanted to arrest Luis Gutierrez Sr. that night, but was told he couldn't arrest the City Manager. The sources add that Norris also wanted to write a supplemental report, but his TPD superiors allegedly ordered him not to. Sources assured us that whenever a public figure is involved in an incident, command officers, right to the top, are notified. In this case, they say, Sgt. Mark Timpfs was notified immediately. The rest of the chain of command that evening was Captain Kevin Danaher and Assistant Chief Richard Miranda.

Many sources within the City of Tucson say Miranda is the City Manager's choice to replace retiring Police Chief Doug Smith.

The Tucson Weekly received a call asking us to stop trying to contact Penta and Norris. The caller said the officers would lose their jobs if they spoke to us. Callers also said Norris' fellow officers were being questioned about his behavior, and that officers on the case were in a bind, allegedly because they had changed the police report at the direction of superiors.

Asked to comment on these allegations, police public affairs officer Lt. Bill Richards noted that Penta is in no trouble. Richards said there had been a question about whether Penta had actually authored his own police report, since Penta normally wrote in longhand, but the Gutierrez report was typed.

Richards said Penta assured his TPD interrogators the report was his; he typed it because he thought it might be distributed to the public some day.

Richards was more vague about Norris. He said that although Norris has not been punished, he's being investigated for "whatever he did."

Richards confirmed what sources had already told The Weekly--namely, that an Internal Affairs investigation is in progress. When asked about an alleged "Memo of Understanding" that police-union activist Rich Anemone, head of TPOA (Tucson Police Officers Association), received regarding this case, Richards said he believes Anemone tried to set up an "inappropriate" interview with KOLD-TV, Channel 13.

Sources also tell us Channel 13 News has done extensive interviews on this story, but that station management refuses to allow reporter Bud Foster to air his findings.

"If the Tucson Police Department management is stupid enough to discipline officers for simply discussing a matter of possible public concern, then they richly deserve all the legal problems they create," says Michael Piccarreta, attorney for the Tucson Police Officers Association. TW

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