A Phoenix Department of Veterans Affairs police investigator claims he was pressured by a supervisor to lie and write false statements about a medical patient in order to justify unlawful detention, according to an internal investigative report.
On Nov. 4, 2013, VA police responded to a call from staff at the Phoenix VA. A patient placed on medical hold had left the facility. After speaking to employees, an officer crossed the street, accompanied by a staff member, and found the patient at a 998 E Indian School Road. The two successfully persuaded the patient to return back to the hospital, see a doctor and finish treatment before leaving.
Just as the incident was about to come to a close, Lt. Robert Mueller, the VA Criminal Investigator, told officers to take the patient into custody because of a suspicion that the patient possessed drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Officers did as they were instructed and placed handcuffs on the suspect, who was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct.
Mueller proceeded to question the suspect about the drug paraphernalia, at which point it was revealed that the patient’s mother had dropped off the clear glass pipe with burnt residue to medical staff, as she had found the pipe and didn’t know what to do with it. The evidence was marked for destruction.
That’s what happened—at least according to the report, but investigating officer Liam Davis, who originally wrote the report, penned a follow-up, in which he requested for the issued citation to be voided “because I was pressured to write this citation by a supervisor in order to justify their prolonged unlawful detention of the named defendant.”
“I protested this citation and the detention to the supervisor in the presence of the physical security specialist,” David wrote. “Further, I was told by the criminal investigator to lie and include false statements in the PC statement. The criminal investigator told me to include statements that were false three times in the presence of my supervisor and the department’s secretary.”
Davis denied that the patient was disruptive and uncooperative.
“Also, the subject in this case never made any threats, threating movements or made any statements referencing harming [REDACTED] or others,” he added. “The subject never became loud or argumentative. The subject never cursed or failed to follow the instruction of Officers.”
Mueller has a past history of questionable behavior, according to whistleblower and Chief Financial Officer Tonja Laney at the Phoenix VA. In a complaint to the office of the inspector general, Laney testified that Mueller conducted an illegal search of her office and seized government and personal property in an attempt to retaliate against her and find evidence of wrongdoing–after she provided testimony regarding mismanagement of the Human Resources Department.
“Once I was removed, Human Resources contacted the VA Police to assist in retrieving documents from my office (Attachment B). HR and the VA Criminal Investigator Mueller conducted and unrestricted and unbounded search of my office,” Laney wrote in March.
She filed a federal lawsuit against Mueller in April.
Trouble at the facility in Phoenix has attracted the attention of lawmakers. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema recently requested in a letter for Secretary Robert McDonald to keep a close watch on an ongoing investigation into whistleblower retaliation against Brandon Coleman. Former acting human resources officer Laurie Butler said in a sworn statement that after Coleman had discussed his concerns about mishandling of suicidal veterans with the media, Phoenix officials held a meeting to try and brainstorm ways to remove him from his position. Coleman wants facility director Glen Grippen to resign for his involvement.
Phoenix VA public affairs did not respond to a request for comment about the police report by press time.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.