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Case of Arizona Deputy's Shooting Reopened

Case of Arizona Deputy's Shooting Reopened

Louis Puroll | Pinal County Deputy Purrol's bloody T-shirt/submitted photo

Associated Press

September 29, 2010

PHOENIX — Arizona officials on Monday reopened the investigation into a deputy’s explanation of how he was shot in the remote desert south of Phoenix amid speculation it was a hoax timed to enflame the debate over illegal immigration.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office announced its decision Monday after two nationally known forensic pathologists raised questions about a wound the deputy suffered.

Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll told investigators he was following a group of smugglers carrying bales of marijuana April 30 when he was ambushed by men firing AK-47 rifles. In what Puroll described as a running gunbattle, he was grazed by a bullet in the back.

The pathologists, Dr. Michael Baden of New York and Dr. Werner Spitz of suburban Detroit, examined photos of the wound released by the sheriff’s office. They told The Associated Press on Friday they concluded the bullet was fired from inches away, not at least 25 yards as Puroll said.


Close-up of Pinal County Deputy Purrol's wound on his back/submitted photo

The sheriff’s office soon after released a statement saying it stood behind the official investigation, and that physical evidence supports the deputy’s account.

But the office reopened the case Monday, saying it wants to maintain transparency.

Office spokesman Tim Gaffney said the shirt Puroll was wearing the day of the shooting is being sent to the state Department of Public Safety for testing. The department will check for gunshot residue, charring, burning or any other evidence that it was a close-range shot.

“If in fact a rifle was fired at Deputy Puroll within a couple of inches as Dr. Baden and Dr. Spitz have concluded, burn marks and residue will be present on the shirt,” Gaffney said.

The sheriff’s office said Friday there were no burn marks on Puroll’s shirt and that his wound had no stippling, which is caused from burnt gunpowder coming from the barrel of a gun fired at close range.

But Baden said Puroll’s shirt did appear to have powder burns.


Pinal County Deputy Purrol's wound/submitted photo

The sheriff’s office said Monday it consulted with Dr. Phil Keen, former chief medical examiner for Maricopa County, about the other pathologists’ opinions. He said Keen disagreed but that he would need the results of tests on the shirt to confirm his opinion.

Puroll’s shooting fueled an already blazing debate in Arizona and the nation about the dangers of immigrant and drug smugglers in southern Arizona. It came just days after Arizona Gov. Janet Brewer signed a sweeping law giving law enforcers powers to question suspected illegal immigrants and arrest them. The major parts of that law have been put on hold by a federal judge on constitutional grounds.

The shooting immediately raised questions about a deputy supposedly looking for armed drug smugglers in the remote desert without backup. A dragnet involving more than 100 officers in the rugged mountainous area about 50 miles south of Phoenix found no suspects and no bales of marijuana.

The area is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Car6_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I support all otfficers accross the county. And I'm hoping for a positive outcome on this, I can't say one way or another.

  • Dana_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Not many comments now the labs proved this officer was telling the truth. Like I said, I'm tired of everyone across the country trying to make trouble for honest workers (cops, border patrol, or deputies) here in AZ. It feels like they're just waiting for someone to mess up, because they don't know what is really going on here.
    This is what's going on, cops alone against drug runners with heavy guns, and no money in the budget to help fight it, because everyone thinks we (citizens in Arizona) are "mean" when we mention the words, illegal aliens and drug runners all in the same sentence.

  • Uss_rhode_island_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Support for our brother in blue. Hopefully it all comes out in the wash...

  • Marvin_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    who the heck asked those two nosey dr.'s. Sounds like someone wants to be the next harry laee, no matter who they have to discredit along the way. anyway if he was aiming around his back how in the world did he control the angle enough to not have more penetration.

  • Imagejpeg9529502_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Upon looking at the closeup picture.. I also see no stippling of the wound. It appears to have been shot from the right to his left. I'm assuming (since I am still a student) that the larger opening of the wound is where the bullet started to graze his back.

    So anyone can correct me if I am wrong. :D, I lived in Arizona for a while, and believe these gentlemen and ladies do not have it easy. I do believe his story. We shall see what the official reports say when the investigation is done.

  • Shrel-only_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    We will have to wait and see. I never have made a conclusion just on a photograph so some what more to the story.

  • Watchmen-smiley_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    "So, all you TROLLS trying to stir up the pot...WHATEVER...wannabes...stick to the Xbox and dope and leave the REAL action to us. Be safe and God Bless my brothers." ? Trolls? Judgement should be kept till after this is settled, true, and backing your brothers in blue should always be a priority... but at what point do you open your eyes and realize every boy in blue in a citizen first, officer second. Anything could be going on, would rather you not demean the police force with your cheap vocabulary. Action is all around us, if you think you need a badge to experience it you are in for a rude awakening. Armed Forces not be Forgotten.

  • 12235_sq90_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    We will see what we see.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    It would be better to wait until the investigation is done before passing judgement. And for a medical examiner to come to such a conclusion based only on photos is unprofessional at best. I suspect at the very least that these examiners are looking to attach themeselves to something sensational.

  • Shutthefup_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Hmmm, well I will tell you that RIGHT NOW I am the only Deputy on duty for a County in northern Nevada that is 6300 sq miles. When I call for back up at O' dark 30...its at least 45 minutes away. If I have to repsond to the northern most part of our County for lets say a domestic...going 105 miles an hours code 3 I'm at least 55 minutes away! So, all you TROLLS trying to stir up the pot...WHATEVER...wannabes...stick to the Xbox and dope and leave the REAL action to us. Be safe and God Bless my brothers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    The story does sound fishy...
    he got grazed by a bullet and got shot by sheer luck and cops don't have time to stage things
    you'll be amazed how much stuff happens in five minutes heck 30 seconds, just listen to a po scanner it's crazy!
    Even if you were an expert shot you couldnt get this sloppy lucky no way no how.

  • Richardrichard_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    My opinion on the case,OH,OH!!!

  • Dana_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I live in AZ. My son is an officer. They don't have time to play games with creating a hoax. I find this man's story very credible. As for his being alone at the time; they are usually alone, because our state is bankrupt. My son is always alone, and as his mom I happen to think he doesn't get paid nearly enough to cover that danger. So if anyone out there wants the job these guys face in Arizona against these drug runners, let them come out here in the desert heat and do it themselves.....Alone. Against groups of hundreds and get paid near minimum wage and laughed at and scorned. Go for it.
    Mom of an officer and sick of the garbage

  • Me2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    People that are saying stuff about being out in the middle of nowhere with no cover, really need to no say stuff like that. I am not sure if you are a county deputy or have been one, but for some reason county cops dont have a lot of deputies on at one time. Your cover could be 20 minutes away. I am associated with the county and to be honost. We have a bretty big area to patrol and on a good day, we only have 5 - 6 deputies on at once. I am not from Arizona so I couldn't know about the drug trafficing situation, but in the county, we will take 2 deputies to a call, unlike the city police where they would take 4 or 5 to the one that we are responding on. So my point is, is you dont have cover all the time as a deputy.

    My opinion on the case, is we will see how the investigation turns out and we will trust that the investigation is right...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    My name is Michael B. Davison I am a retired Lieutenant from the Monroe County Sheriff Department in Monroe, Michigan. In 1991 I was involved in the investigation of a slain Milan, Michigan, city police officer. He was ambushed as he arrived at the police station and was shot in the head with a .223 rifle. I attended the autopsy that was conducted by Dr. Warner Spitz. Dr. Spitz was entirely wrong in his conclusion of the wound path. His conclusion put the shooter at a position completely opposite of where the weapon was fired from. After Spitz left the autopsy, I was not satisfied with his conclusion and re-inspected the body. This was in the presence of the Michigan State Police Crime Lab. It was at this time, I was able to discover the entry wound that was on the complete opposite side of the head from where Spitz had determined the round entered. The medical examiner and Spitz were called back to the morgue. Even though Spitz was very dissatisfied with this, he had to admit that he was wrong. I have a letter from the Monroe County Medical Examiner that will verify this information that I would be willing to share with you. How can Spitz make comments on this case when he is only looking at pictures?

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