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By February 28, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

When is Police “Use of Force” Justified?

Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, has raised numerous objections to new use-of-force policies. CLICK THE IMAGE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

It seems like every law enforcement agency is grappling with changes in use-of-force policies, which are too often implemented by people that are not familiar at all with the complicated, risky, and high-pressure world of law enforcement, especially when it comes to the use of deadly force.

The press conference you are about to watch was convened by Ken Crane, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), flanked by some of Arizona’s most powerful law enforcement officials. Ken builds his case, detail by detail, and powerfully proves the action taken against this officer is wrong. Every police association in the country is dealing with these kinds of situations and we thought you might get some good ideas seeing what Ken Crane and his folks at PLEA did to fight back. You can read the story below the video.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams is having trouble defending new and confusing use-of-force policies that are causing a morale problem for officers.


PLEA is defending a Phoenix police officer involved in a 2015 shooting. PLEA is also criticizing how Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams handled the case.

“Police managers will often take the politically safe route when it comes to police use of force matters,” said Ken Crane, president of PLEA. “This means the men and women who daily man the front lines are sometimes sacrificed for the benefit of the politically correct decision.”

PLEA’s concerns date back to a Dec. 26, 2015, incident, when a suspect throwing rocks and cinder blocks at a police vehicle andprecinct’s front door died in an officer-involved shooting.

It happened at the intersection of 39th Avenue and Cactus Road in front of the Cactus Park Precinct just before noon.

On that day, a patrol supervisor in a marked Tahoe had just left the precinct when the man threw an unknown object (probably a rock) striking his patrol vehicle.

While the supervisor was calling dispatch, the man threw a cinder block, breaking the glass of the precinct’s front door, police said.

An officer, responding from inside the station, exited to back up the sergeant. 

“An officer and a sergeant had to contend with an unstable, uncontained violent subject,” Crane said.

“The suspect was still holding rocks/bricks and was refusing to stop, drop the objects, or obey any police direction,” Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said at the time.

The suspect then reportedly threw a large river rock at the officer and the rock hit the officer in the hand.

As the rock was being thrown, the officer fired, striking the suspect.

The suspect was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later died. He was identified as 41-year-old Lonnie Niesen.

The incident was investigated, but the officer who fired the gun was cleared.

“The officer was cleared by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of any wrongdoing,” said Crane.

But 15 months later, a police department Use of Force Board reviewed the incident and recommended that the force be designated “out of policy.”

At the time, Phoenix Police chief Jeri Williams went with the recommendation of the board.

“This raises a question,” said Crane. “How did the officer go from hero to zero in 15 months?”

PLEA’s website states what they say happened next:

“PLEA intervened and asked for a meeting and she agreed. Chief Williams came to the PLEA office and we thoroughly briefed her on all aspects of the case. She agreed to give it a re-look and get back with us. PLEA received an email from her on July 28, 2017. Chief Williams indicated she would not reverse the Use of Force Board recommendation. By our count we brought the subject up for discussion on three occasions over a time period of several months.”


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