I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sean Drenth's murder to be ruled suicide by county ME

funny how the main suspects in this homicide were other Phoenix cops, and now it's being ruled a suicide, over a year later...

-----------------from ABC15-----------

Ruling imminent in manner of death for Sgt. Sean Drenth
December 6, 2011

By: Lori Jane Gliha

PHOENIX - The ABC15 Investigators have learned the Maricopa County Medical Examiner will soon be making a ruling on the manner of death for a Phoenix police sergeant who was shot to death with his own shotgun on-duty in October 2010.

Family members told ABC15 they were informed last week that the manner of death for Sgt. Sean Drenth would be listed as a suicide on the death certificate, although a spokesperson for Maricopa County, Cari Gerchick, said it is too soon to give a response.

Gerchick would not confirm whether the manner of death would be listed a suicide, homicide, or undetermined.

For more than a year, the Phoenix Police Department has handled the case as a homicide investigation, and the lead homicide detective, Warren Brewer, has said he believed the death is a homicide.

Currently, the Phoenix Police Department is classifying Drenth’s death as a “Death Unknown”.

“Unexplained DNA, unknown shoe prints, location of firearms, the original police report will remain titled “Death Unknown” until these questions are satisfactorily explained to our investigators,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump.

The ABC15 Investigators have been following the case for over a year. Check out their full investigation, Death on Duty: Sgt. Sean Drenth Mystery .

Police investigators are still waiting for official, written opinions from two, outside pathologists, who have been reviewing the case, before they determine how to move forward with the case.

When the written evaluations from the outside pathologists are submitted to the Phoenix Police Department, detectives will regroup and make a determination whether to continue classifying the death as unknown or whether to consider it a suicide or a homicide.

Drenth’s family, meanwhile, has maintained that Drenth did not kill himself.

“There’s a cop killer out there,” Diane Drenth, Sean’s mother, told ABC15 in a September interview.

“I know that we don’t want any of the people that we’ve come close to over this time to go through anything like we’ve had to go through,” she said.

Diane and Sean's wife, Colleen, sent ABC15 the following statement Tuesday regarding the medical examiner's ruling:

"The ruling made by the Medical Examiner is completely unacceptable to us. We know, without a doubt, that Sean absolutely did not take his own life. He loved his wife, his family, his friends, his dogs, his music, as well as his job as a police officer. He was always a very happy individual who enjoyed each and every day of his life. He was never someone who was sad, depressed or distraught, as one would have to be, in order to take their own life. We will do everything possible to fight this and get answers to find out what really happened. The results so far are equivocal and given the lack of conclusive evidence, we feel the finding of the medical examiner is a reflection on the medical examiner’s office giving up on the case rather than coming to a final conclusion. We will do everything possible to fight this and get answers to find out what really happened."


Phoenix officer's death to be ruled a suicide, police say

Phoenix police said Tuesday that the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office will announce today that it has ruled the death of Sgt. Sean Drenth a suicide.

Drenth, 34, was found fatally wounded near the state Capitol on the night of Oct. 18, 2010. He was lying on his back on the ground next to the passenger side of his patrol car. The driver- and passenger-side doors were open. Drenth evidently was killed by a blast from his shotgun, which was found resting on his chest with the muzzle pointing toward his chin.

Though many circumstances suggested suicide, particularly the shotgun on his chest, others suggested homicide. His service pistol had been flung 40 feet from where his body lay, there were signs of a struggle, and a secondary weapon Drenth carried had been fired toward where his service pistol was found.

Investigators also were perplexed by evidence indicating there had been someone at the scene whose presence police could not explain.

Police Sgt. Trent Crump said Tuesday that, in recent months, Phoenix investigators and the medical examiner had been working with "four forensics experts to try to determine the manner of Sergeant Drenth's death."

He said the experts included authorities on firearms and a forensic pathologist.

"We know the cause of death was a wound from his shotgun," Crump said. "But based on what the experts have said, the medical examiner has told us he is going to rule the manner of death suicide. The Phoenix homicide report, however, will remain as it has been -- that this is a death unknown -- until we have some questions explained."

Crump said investigators want the same things explained that they have always puzzled over.

The spokesman said the presence of fingerprints, footprints and DNA at the scene of Drenth's death that could not be explained as belonging to any of the people known to be there makes the case remain a mystery.

"The case is not closed," Crump said.

At the time of his death, Drenth was one of more than 24 officers who, for more than a year, were under investigation into reported theft while working off-duty at a south Phoenix housing complex.

They were accused of pocketing thousands of dollars for security services that they claimed to have done but that authorities allege they didn't provide.

Drenth died before indictments were made in the case.

Three of Drenth's fellow officers and a former officer were indicted, and police officials later confirmed that Drenth would have been indicted had he lived. They said Drenth could have faced felony charges.

But authorities later said interviews that detectives conducted with people who knew Drenth threw cold water on the notion that he would have killed himself over the investigation or for any other reason.

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