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1/15/2008 5:15:00 PM
Sheriff Waugh responds to critics of Dibor Roberts arrest
'Officer acted appropriately'
Sheriff Steve Waugh
Photo by Shane DeLong
Sheriff Steve Waugh Photo by Shane DeLong

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh Tuesday defended his sergeant's actions in the arrest of Cottonwood's Dibor Roberts on a dark rural road July 29.

The sheriff said he wanted to add details to the public record that have not been reported by the news media.

Waugh did not announce that charges would be dropped against the nurse's aide of Senegalese descent. Many protesters, mainly women with hand-painted signs, who gathered for the Sheriff's press conference hoped a dismissal of the charges would have been the outcome.

The officer, Jeff Neunum, has come under fire for the arrest on Cornville Road July 29 at 10:45 p.m when he forced over Roberts' car over for speed and refusing to stop. Roberts was returning to Cottonwood from work in the Village of Oak Creek.

The press has long carried Roberts' story that the woman wanted to get to a well-lighted area to pull over for the officer because she was a small woman afraid that Neunum was a police imposter. But, Waugh indicated that at no time did she acknowledge the officer and signal that she would pull over.

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction is "8,200 square miles of which 8,000 is dark," according to Waugh.

When questioned, the sheriff said the officer did the traffic stop "by the book." The only maneuver, for which he faulted the officer, was pulling his vehicle in front of hers. He told the gathering that Neunum has worked 14 years in law enforcement, in homicide, special crimes investigations and other duties.

Click the picture to see the unedited video of the sheriff's press conference.

When questioned, the sheriff said the officer did the traffic stop "by the book." The only maneuver, for which he faulted the officer, was pulling his vehicle in front of hers. He told the gathering that Neunum has worked 14 years in law enforcement, in homicide, special crimes investigations and other duties.

VVN/Shane DeLong

Waugh says the sergeant drove a fully marked "2006 Ford Expedition, the largest vehicle in the fleet."

He read from testimony given by a witness who was parked alongside Cornville Road talking on a cell phone when the traffic stop occurred nearby. The witness saw the officer break out the window of the woman's vehicle with his baton and heard the woman screaming and he asked him if he could help.

"At no time did Neunum throw Roberts to the ground and put a knee in her back."

He also disputed reports that the woman was trying to call 911 when the officer broke the window to open her car door. Phone records show that no calls were made from her phone from 16 minutes prior to the arrest until 20 minutes after the arrest. "There was no indication that she made calls to her husband or 911."

He said there have been 40,000 traffic stops since he has become sheriff, and this is the first time there has been such an incident. One woman from Sedona, Maryanne Mills, told the sheriff," There has to have been a reason, a problem with this stop."

He said Neunum's tactics were appropriate and would not have evolved to such a state had she acknowledged the officer. "I think I am defending what is right," said Waugh.

Waugh said that if someone is concerned an officer may not be legitimate, he or she should move to a well-lighted area. But, he cautioned that in some areas of the county, there are "25 to 75 miles between well-lighted areas." Make sure to signal or acknowledge the officer and roll down the window enough to hear."

Waugh said that he is not familiar with any other case in which a police imposter used a fully marked police vehicle.



Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, May 19, 2008
Article comment by: Bob Mulroy

Anyone should have the right to drive to a public lighted area. Is there a defense fund set up for her appeals?

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Article comment by: Jeffrey

How do you acknowledge an 'officer' on a dark highway? According to the sheriff's directions, you stop and roll down the window. I'm sure the officer will say "That's OK I'll follow you to the next lit intersection." Right! If he's an imposter what is he likely to do? Forcably stop the car by putting his car in front and forcing you off the road. What's his next step? Break out the driver's window. After that he might possibly take away the woman's cell phone. If this stop was done by the book, the BOOK needs to be re written!!!



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