The Pima County Attorney's Office has dismissed the case against five former Pima County corrections officers accused of beating four people outside a bar, but plans to seek a new indictment against them within a week.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Rona Kreamer told Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank Monday that her office decided to take the case before another grand jury after two defense attorneys objected to the way it was presented the first time.
According to official reports, a fight involving at least nine people broke out on Sept. 19 after a patron of the Buffet Bar on East Ninth Street was assaulted by a corrections officer while unlocking his bicycle.
On Oct. 9, Anthony Bonfiglio, Angel Castañeda, Matthew Garcia, Steven Haglund and John Hyatt were indicted on aggravated assault charges, and fellow officers Yvonne Davis and Mark Bret were indicted on hindering prosecution charges. All seven also lost their jobs.
Attorneys for Castañeda and Hyatt recently filed motions asking Cruikshank to force prosecutors to take the case back to the grand jury, saying the case was unfairly presented.
Defense attorneys Su-zanne Crawford and Jacob Amaru wrote in their motions that grand jurors were not told about threats they allege were made by the victims. Nor were the grand jurors told a video of the incident shows Hyatt restraining Garcia after he attacked the first victim.
According to court documents, Crawford said her client, Castañeda, joined the fray late and only because he thought he and his co-workers were about to get stabbed.
Crawford wrote in her motion that a video of the incident clearly shows Garcia attacked one of the victims while he was unlocking his bike and that Hyatt and Haglund held Garcia back while an unnamed corrections officer tried to calm the victim down.
The video also shows the victim going back into the bar, coming out with a friend and "re-engaging" the corrections officers, she said.
It's only after all of this happened, Crawford said, that her client came out of the bar.
Her client was bending down talking to one of the victims when the man suddenly stood up with a backpack in his hand and threatened to "slice" them all with a knife, Crawford contends.
"Having no knowledge of what had previously taken place, Castañeda acted singularly to stop a sudden, unexpected deadly threat when he punched (the man)," Crawford said.
Amaru, who represents Hyatt, also said grand jurors weren't told his client left before two of the victims were assaulted.
A status hearing on the case will be held Feb. 19.
On StarNet: Follow the news and events at Pima County's courthouses in Kim Smith's blog, At the Courthouse, at azstarnet.com/courthouse
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or email@example.com