City of Scottsdale v. Mikitish, No. 1 CA-SA 22-0031 (App. Div. I, May 31, 2022) (J. Morse)
Plaintiff brought this defamation action against the City of Scottsdale based upon police reports authored by police officers investigating a disturbance. In the report the police officers stated plaintiff had pointed a gun at them. Plaintiff claimed body cam footage showed the gun was pointed down not at the officers. The State charged plaintiff with aggravated assault alleging the victims of this assault were the police officers authoring the report. Plaintiff later pled guilty to felony disorderly conduct and was placed on probation.
The City moved for summary judgement on plaintiff's defamation claim arguing the statements by the police officers in their report were absolutely immune. The trial court disagreed finding the statements in question were “not complaints made to the police” but rather “documentation of their own work in their official capacity.” The Arizona Court of Appeals accepted special action jurisdiction and granted the City the Relief requested. The trial court's granting of summary judgment is reversed.
[O]ur Court has extended an absolute privilege to citizen crime victims'
statements to the police. See Ledvina v. Cerasani, 213 Ariz. 569, 574, ¶ 14
(App. 2006). This privilege is part of the common-law's "absolute immunity
for statements made in furtherance of judicial proceedings," and is guided,
in part, by the Victim's Bill of Rights in Article 2, Section 2.1, of the Arizona
The Arizona Court of Appeals holds ”statements made by law-enforcement officers detailing incidents in which the law-enforcement officer is the victim of the reported crime are subject to the absolute privilege.” Further this immunity exists beyond the tenure of the underlying criminal case to which it relates.
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