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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.

  • Sunset_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    To lars243 and deputybrandon, didn't mean to offend you two. I been in Law Enforcement and Military and believe me I been thru incidents similar to this. I wouldn't be suprise if this incident comes out to be true. If I'm wrong than I apoligize to the deputy. The reason I'm not in Law Enforcement no more because, it does not pay enough to be shot at!!! PEACE ON OUT TO ALL THE LAW ENFORCEMENT OF MEN AND WOMEN RISKING THIER LIVES FOR US EVERYDAY MAY GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU AMEN!!! OVER AND OUT

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    I agree with ps4436 and RoboCop33. Everyone is always so anxious to hang somebody out to dry. Wait until the investigation is totally finished. It seems we never have anybody around to witness when things go well or when we need someone to collaborate our story. During times of crisis, our focus narrows and we may miss stuff that is critical to the "whole picture". Hope it all works out for the best.

  • Logo_20bus_20card_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Just my opinion but let's say he was trying to "incite" the debate over illegal immigration or was in cahoots with the drug smugglers - then I would submit he is the biggest fool ever. He had one helluva marksman to shoot him (or a really poor shot) because the location of the graze wound could have meant he was short one kidney or dead if the person conspiring with him twitched even a little bit - and could it be self-inflicted?? How the heck can you shoot yourself in the back like that and be sure the wound would only be a graze wound? If it was self-inflicted then why not a graze wound from the front or to an extremity? As far as him being in cahoots with the drug smugglers and they wanted to get rid of him - single officer, AK-47, etc. Do you think they would not have stopped after putting one round in a lone officer?

    I'll wait for the investigation but I hope the chain of custody is preserved on the shirt because I am more suspicious of the motives of the parties making the claims.

    I just wish the politicians and bleeding hearts would realize that there is a war on our borders already. If we listened to their pablum, the US would be no better than the crap in Matamoras. Maybe we should insist that all the sanctuary cities, churches, politicians and bleeding heart do-gooders be required to take in the illegals crossing the borders!

  • Daredevil_hook_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    It's time for me to show you Deputy's how to get rid of the illegal's and drug runner's, so I'm coming to Arizona
    be expecting me.
    Dare Devil Hook !

  • 072_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    AZmeangreen is right. I may have only been on the other side of the radio, but I can't tell you how many times lone officers, at least from the agency I worked for, went out into the middle of nowhere, even though they were on a state highway! A lot of times they weren't responding to calls, they were just doing their job and patrolling their areas. Closest backup may be from the adjoining state. Or, and I thanked God all the time for them, Border Patrol from God only knows how far away!
    Personally, I think that any investigation of any police officer should be kept out of the limelight until the investigation is FINISHED, and then only if the officer (regardless of agency) is found to be at fault. Regardless of the outcome, now this deputy's reputation has been smeared across the front pages. I find that to be reprehensible and disgusting.
    lelizondo? Just....go away....

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    Beat me to it DeputyBrandon. Lelizondo you haven't fleshed out your profile, so without doing that, for all we know you're just trolling forums trying to stir up trouble or a frustrated wannabe. You wanna talk about backup? Often times my closest backup is coming from another county. Twenty-thirty minutes or more is actually a norm for hundreds of deputies across the country. I have one buddy who's county is 4000 sq miles. HIS backup can be WELL over 60-90 minutes away.

    I suggest you stay in your lane.

  • Sheepdog-thumb1_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Lelizonbo you should stick with watching Matlock on day time TV you are clueless.

  • Sunset_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I smell a good cop going bad. I think he is involved in drug smuggling and something went wrong and he got shot by drug smugglers. He is covering up this incident. The FBI should look into this. come on people the dude had no back-up or no calls for him check on any suspious activities out there!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    If he was going to shoot himself, why in the back part of his body, which would indicate he might be going away from the shooter. I say he was shot by a dope donkey. I wish him a speedy recovery. And I have been wittness to some ME's who made huge blunders and boo's boo's at the expence of others.

  • Last_day_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I hope this is ot a case of self infliction. I have seen Dr. Baden speak about wounds, about 4 years ago, and at that time I thought it would be wise for him to retire. He losses his place and can't remember what he was saying so his mind is not as sharp as it may have been once. So what I am saying is this, I do not trust Baden's opinion.

  • Stmaarten2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    drama drama drama....just tell us the outcome and i hope that when hes innocent his picture is paraded around like this

  • Profile_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    When I was an LEO many years ago..working as a County officer..the county is 90 miles long....I worked alone always. Never had a partner. My backup could be 30 miles away or non-existent. Thank was not as rough back then as it is now!

  • Storm_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    It will all come out in the wash. I'll just sit back and watch

  • 1979_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Like A mean green said, it may not be the safest or the best idea but working alone in dangerous areas is often just the way it is. Maybe most of you guys are able to have back-up right there. I worked mainly solo and in was always in the roughest part of town including the area that the word came out if they caught a LEO by himself, they would kill him. You cannot hide from threats, even if they are real, you have to confront them and do so as best you can using your training and common sense to keep you safe. Like I said, let's wait and see. Until they can come back and state that they found evidence of power burns on his shirt or skin I will put my faith in the Agent and trust him at his word. Again, I hope that they report his innocence as widely as they reported the question of his veracity.

  • Don_27t_20tred_20on_20me_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    he's shot in the back...if this was a hoax, there probably is someone else involved.

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