September 4, 2004
A Mesa police sergeant has been demoted and placed on probation, and a fellow sergeant will not be disciplined in the shooting death last year of a Mesa woman.
Mary Ann Minchew, 23, was shot and killed Sept. 6 shortly after officers were called to the Citrus Grove Trailer Park, 1007 W. Main St., about an armed woman harassing neighbors.
Five Mesa police officers formed a board of inquiry to determine whether Sgts. Larry Hall and Lee Rankin followed the department’s policies and to make disciplinary recommendations to Police Chief Dennis Donna, who demoted Hall.
According to the board’s report, released Friday, an officer found an intoxicated Minchew standing in her doorway. When she failed to come out, the officer used his Taser, but it didn’t make contact.
Minchew then blocked the entrance with her refrigerator door and a plastic chair.
According to the report, Hall asked Lt. Brian Kozak if he could fire his beanbag gun at the chair to get it out of the way, but was denied permission. Hall then fired a few moments later. Hall later said he was shooting at Minchew, not the chair.
Hall, believing Minchew was struck, rushed in, followed by Rankin.
Minchew was standing in the kitchen with a knife. She came at them and both officers fired, Hall with the beanbag gun and Rankin with his gun.
While Hall and Rankin were justified in shooting Minchew, the board ruled that Hall violated eight Mesa Police Department policies and Rankin four.
Kozak was making arrangements for officers with chemical agents and canines to come when Hall fired the beanbag weapon, the board said. In addition, both he and Rankin rushed into the trailer after losing sight of Minchew.
"The board believes this shooting may have been avoided if Sgt. Hall and Sgt. Rankin had exhibited selfcontrol and relied upon their training, experience and Mesa police policy," the report indicated.
The board asked Donna to demote both.
Donna noted Rankin said he knew negotiating with Minchew was the best course of action. Donna also said Rankin had no control over Hall’s actions and felt he had to protect Hall. Donna also noted Hall has since said that "talking more" may have yielded a different outcome.