the webmaster says this police sniper is a murder and should be in jail


Investigator testifies sniper misread threat

By Charles Kelly
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 14, 2002

PEORIA - A Peoria police sniper who shot and killed an empty-handed, distraught man on Nov. 20 last year should not have fired without getting more information about what was going on, said the sergeant who did the internal investigation.

Peoria police Sgt. Nick Piccirello testified Friday that the sniper, Norman Brice, violated department policy by unnecessarily shooting Julian A. Navarro Jr. to keep him from going back into a house where he was holding his 3-week-old son.

Piccirello said Brice should have asked more questions to gauge how great a threat Brice was to the infant and to find out if other officers had plans to capture Navarro.

"What would have been reasonable would be for him (Brice) to ask, to inquire, to follow up," Piccirello said.

Brice testified this week, however, that he had gathered a great deal of vital information and was too busy reacting to the threat to gather more.

The sergeant testified in a personnel hearing to review the police department's decision to punish Brice by removing him as a police officer. He was given a civilian job with the department.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to charge him in the incident, but the city says Peoria police policy on using deadly force is tougher than state law.

Under questioning from Steve Burg, senior deputy city attorney, Piccirello said the administrative and criminal investigations of Brice turned up no evidence that Navarro would have gone back into the house, where he had a loaded rifle and shotgun, and killed the baby.

But under questioning from Martin Bihn, an attorney for Brice, Piccirello acknowledged that Brice had been told by Lt. Mark Shepard, who was in charge of the incident, that Navarro had threatened the baby.

Shepard said he based that on an ominous cellphone conversation he had with Navarro and on various statements from the baby's mother, including that Navarro "would not give up the baby and would kill the baby first."

Though the decision to discipline Brice is supposed to be based on what he knew and believed at the time of the shot, both Brice and the city have used information developed after that to bolster their positions.

Navarro, a landscaper who was recuperating from a chain-saw cut on his knee, had prescription painkillers and an extremely high dose of illegal methamphetamine in his body, enough to make him homicidal or suicidal, a toxicologist testified. While Brice didn't know Navarro was drugged, he said he observed Navarro ranting and acting irrationally, which he believed made Navarro more dangerous.

On the other hand, the city says a note left by Navarro directed to his infant son showed he did not intend to kill his child.

Peoria Police Chief David Leonardo testified Friday that he worked hard to make sure the various investigations of the incident were fair and complete because the Navarro incident had been so divisive in the department.

"There had even been arguments over whether it was a good shooting or a bad shooting," Leonardo said.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-6936.

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