NEVER Dial 911

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Anthony Arambula acted quickly on the evening of September 17, 2008 after an intruder broke into his house. After the invader crashed through a window in the family’s Phoenix home, Arambula grabbed his personal firearm and held him at gunpoint.

Then he made the nearly fatal mistake of dialing 911.

Three Phoenix PD officers were already in the neighborhood when the call went out. Outside the house, Arambula’s wife Lesley informed Sgt. Sean Coutts that her husband had already taken the intruder into custody and was holding him at gunpoint.

Either out of reflexive contempt for a mundane or criminal incompetence, Sgt. Coutts neglected — or refused — to pass along this vital information to his fellow tax-devourers. Before Mrs. Arambula could relay those important facts to the other officers, Officer Brian Lilly shot Anthony six times in the back — twice after he had hit the floor.

“You just killed the homeowner,” gasped Anthony as he bled into the floor of his house. “The bad guy is in there.”

“We f***d up,” Lilly reported to his dispatcher. Fear not, he and his fellow officers acted quickly to address the most pressing issue — no, not the threat to Anthony’s life, or that posed by the intruder, but rather the risk to the career of the police officer who shot the innocent man.

Displaying natural leadership ability, Sgt. Coutts quickly devised a cover story: In the official version, Anthony had pointed his gun at Officer Lilly, yet somehow managed to take six rounds in the back.

“That’s all right,” Coutts consoled Lilly as Anthony was bleeding to death in front of his children. “I got you back … we clear?”

The entire incident was captured on the 911 recording. The audiotape didn’t record what happened next, according to the family’s lawsuit:

“Tony made what he believed was a dying request to the officers; he did not want his young family to see him shot and bloodied. Officers callously ignored his request and painfully dragged Tony by his injured leg, through the home and out to his backyard patio, where they left him bloodied and shot right in front of Lesley, Matthew and Zachary.”

The officers later dragged the wounded man onto gravel, then shoved him on top of the hood of a cruiser and “drove the squad car down the street with Tony lying on top, writhing in pain.”

In order to preserve their cover story, the police insisted on treating Anthony like the suspect in a drug bust, forbidding family and friends to visit him in the hospital.

Not surprisingly, Anthony — who managed to survive being “protected and served” by Phoenix’s “Finest” — still suffers from chronic pain from his injuries, and most likely will for the rest of his life.

1:51 pm on October 8, 2009
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