The Phoenix Police Department is down another police officer after a woman filed a lawsuit alleging stalking and harassment while acting under the color of law.
According to the lawsuit, Maricopa County resident Marcela de Jesus Guzman Estrada was driving to the grocery store after church in August 2018 when officer Marcos Rodriguez pulled onto the road abruptly in his police cruiser. He was on his cellphone. Guzman swerved to avoid being hit. Down the road, Rodriguez pulled up beside her vehicle, signaled for her to lower the window, and apologized for his driving.
When she attempted to drive away, Rodriguez indicated that he wanted her to pull over, but did not engage his cruiser's lights. He then pulled up to Guzman's car facing the opposite direction and extended his apology to an invitation to coffee.
The lawsuit says that Rodriguez informed Guzman he had an emergency call, but that he continued to pester her for coffee. Guzman declined his offer several times during the exchange, at one point using the priority of an emergency call as justification. Guzman says in the lawsuit that she gave Rodriguez her business card and he drove away.
Later, Rodriguez allegedly texted Guzman at her business card cell number. He then showed up to her apartment dressed in his uniform and holding his department laptop. The lawsuit says that Guzman was "uncomfortable" considering she never gave Rodriguez her address. Still, she says in the lawsuit that she let him inside under the belief that he was there to conduct a report about the driving incident.
Setting up his laptop at her dining table, Rodriguez allegedly began to make comments on them becoming friends. He suggested that Guzman needed him in her life because she lived alone. The conversation turned sexual when Rodriguez asked Guzman, who he seated at the table, if she wanted to be kissed. Guzman noted a wedding band on his finger and further rebuked his advances. Rodriguez allegedly replied by calling his wife "boring" and his marriage "dead."
During the exchange, Rodriguez stood up, grabbed his genitals, and asked Guzman if she was interested in "some of this." Rodriguez hovered his pelvic area over Guzman, who then attempted to get him out of her apartment by saying she had to go to the movies.
Rodriguez continued, describing his desire to have anal sex. Guzman continued to deny him and asked him to stop making sexual advances. According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez told her that he was an officer and had the authority to do as he pleased.
The lawsuit says that Rodriguez demonstrated on Guzman what he would do if someone were to disarm him on the street. Guzman alleges that Rodriguez wrapped his arm around her neck and pointed his gun at her face. He then moved the gun to her ribs before leaving the apartment.
Rodriguez continued to text Guzman. His texts ranged from telling her that she needed a man for protection to sharing deeply personal details about his broken childhood. Guzman was forced to abandon her apartment very quickly out of fear for her safety. Because of the abruptness, Guzman lost many of her possessions.
The lawsuit also names three other detectives as defendants: Hunnicutt (whose first name is not listed in the lawsuit), Brandon Warner, and Carmina Theriault. Guzman says in her lawsuit that Hunnicutt and Warner took Guzman's information at the police station but did not follow up with her. Theriault also heard Guzman's story, but then rudely screamed that she watched too many movies and was merely seeking money from the police department.
Last month, the Phoenix City Council approved a $125,000 settlement to Guzman. Phoenix Police Department Spokesperson Sgt. Tommy Thompson confirmed to Reason that Rodriguez was terminated on October 16, but he was "unable to provide more information at this time, because the appellate process is still ongoing."
The Phoenix New Times reports that Rodriguez is the fifth officer since August to be fired from the department for major and disturbing misconduct.