A Mesa police sergeant who killed a suspect in a supermarket homicide last week had been recommended for discipline for his role in the 2003 shooting death of a mentally disabled woman.
But Sgt. Harold Rankin was not demoted to officer after the death of Mary Ann Minchew of Mesa. Instead, then-Chief Dennis Donna overruled a recommendation by the department’s internal review board, citing Rankin’s effort to control the situation.
On Friday, Rankin and two other officers, Mark Garera and James Pollard, fatally shot Charles Haynes outside of his Mesa town home. Minutes before, witnesses had told police that Haynes entered a Bashas’ grocery store at 339 E. Brown Road and shot to death the produce manager, Tony Sanchez, 53, of Chandler.
The witnesses gave police enough information to track Haynes to his nearby home at 222 W. Brown Road.
The officers found him in a parking lot there. When he shot at them, the officers fired back.
Rankin is a 10-year veteran. Garera and Pollard have been on the force for seven years. All three are on paid administrative leave.
It was the city’s second officer-involved shooting of the year.
In such incidents, the case is referred to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review to see if criminal charges are warranted.
Then the Mesa police Board of Inquiry conducts its own investigation to see if department policies were upheld. The probe can take more than a year.
Almost exactly a year after Minchew’s death on Sept. 6, 2003, the review board recommended demotions for Rankin and Sgt. Larry Hall.
The board said the two police officers could have prevented the 23-year-old woman’s death if they had exercised more restraint.
Donna upheld Hall’s demotion, the department’s first such disciplinary action in at least five years. But Donna didn’t punish Rankin, saying he had attempted to deescalate the situation before firing at Minchew.
Meanwhile, Bashas’ announced Monday it has established a memorial fund for Sanchez. Donations will be accepted at Wells Fargo bank branches.
Funeral arrangements for Sanchez have not been completed, Bashas’ spokeswoman Alison Bendler said.
A motive for killing Sanchez is unknown.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever find that out,” police spokesman Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.