Stemming from a road-rage altercation back in December of last year, a Mesa police sergeant has now been indicted on two felony counts of aggravated assault in which he was first portrayed as the victim.
Sgt. Mike Duke, 42, is a 19-year veteran of the Mesa Police force. He was off-duty on a Sunday and driving to an urgent-care facility in his minivan with his three sons when the alleged incident occurred in northeast Mesa. Jerry Smyers told police that his brother Randy was upset about Duke tailgating him and that he merely wanted Duke to pass him. The confrontation erupted after Randy Smyers stopped his pickup in the middle of the road. Duke found himself exchanging blows during the road-side confrontation with the two brothers.
Officials initially believed that it was the Smyers brothers who dealt the first blow of the alleged incident. Police would later drop the charges and ask Scottsdale police to conduct a full investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. The department eventually released a 911 recording, during which Randy Smyers is audibly heard asking Duke repeatedly to identify himself as a police officer. Duke just responded with a string of profanities. It was ultimately determined that Duke was the one who physically struck first.
The officer’s wife defended her husband, claiming he was simply acting in self-defense by protecting himself and his three sons, who range in age from 8 to 13. Alicia Duke conceded her husband’s language on the 911 tape during the incident was poor, but she said he was suffering from a knee injury and was under a great deal of stress. The city eventually settled a notice of claim by paying each of the Smyers brothers $62,500.
The former police Sergeant is scheduled to appear before a commissioner on August 22nd. He has applied for a medical retirement, and his application is pending before the city’s retirement board.
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