Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Former Glendale police officer won't face abuse charges

Two Glendale police officers resigned months after an internal investigation was launched by an anonymous call.

The unidentified caller reported in July that Glendale Sgt. Brent Thomas had abused his wife, according to documents released to The Republic after a public-records request.

Those allegations will not result in criminal charges, a Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman said on Tuesday.

However, by December, Thomas and another officer with whom he had a romantic relationship had resigned and a third officer was reprimanded.

Investigation starts

Last summer, when the allegations were reported, Thomas and his wife were in the midst of a divorce.

Thomas' wife told police Thomas had abused her for seven to 10 years. She also shared photos of injuries she said resulted from the abuse. Glendale police redacted details about the injuries and the abuse allegations in the documents released to The Republic.

Police recommended in October that Thomas, a 14-year officer, be charged with felony counts of aggravated domestic violence, aggravated assault, criminal damage and interference with a judicial proceeding, a misdemeanor.

A spokesman for the county attorney's office confirmed Tuesday that prosecutors will not file charges against Thomas.

"Our position after reviewing the information that was provided to us is that there is not enough to win a conviction," spokesman Jerry Cobb said.

An attorney representing Thomas said his client denies his wife's accusations. Another attorney, DeShon Pullen wrote, "The first report in the 14-year relationship was after the service of the divorce . . . (his wife) told him in her own words that she promised she would ruin him."

Thomas, who had no major previous disciplinary problems and good performance reviews, would not comment to The Republic.

Police officials relieved Thomas of his enforcement duties immediately upon learning of the abuse allegations and ordered him to return his department weapons, said Sgt. Brent Coombs, a Glendale police spokesman. Thomas was told he would be reassigned to administrative tasks during the investigation but he never returned to work, Coombs said. Thomas also chose not to speak to police investigators.

Investigation expands

Thomas and another officer, Heather Opp, worked the same shift and in the same patrol area, according to documents. Thomas also was Opp's supervisor, at times.

In interviews with investigators, Opp first described her relationship with Thomas and his wife as friendly. She later said she and Thomas had a romantic relationship and that she had moved in with Thomas, who no longer lived with his wife.

She denied being aware of the alleged abuse.

Police also learned that Thomas' wife told Glendale Officer Delores Baumann about the apparent abuse but she did not report it to supervisors. Thomas was Baumann's boss, according to police records.

Baumann told investigators she "felt she was caught in a predicament that had no beneficial outcome regardless of what she did."

The internal investigation was completed Sept. 30. Investigators accused Opp of lying about her relationship with Thomas during her review. They recommended termination of Thomas based on the allegations against him.

Police Chief Steve Conrad notified Thomas and Opp that they were going to be fired.

Both officers resigned.

Baumann was given a written reprimand.

Neither Baumann nor Opp could be reached for comment.

Opp, a two-year officer, agreed last month to voluntarily give up her right to serve as a police officer in Arizona after her case was forwarded to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board for review.

Thomas's case has not yet gone before the board.


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