PHOENIX - Apache County Sheriff Brian Hounshell and Commander Andrew Tafoya "willfully and maliciously" sent Deputy Robert Marinez into a dangerous situation for which he was not properly trained or equipped, resulting in a head injury from which he will never fully recover, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.

Marinez was shot in the head during an attempt by the Apache County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team to draw right-wing radio host William Cooper out of his Eagar home Nov. 6, 2001, in order to serve a warrant.

Cooper had lived in self-imposed exile atop the hill overlooking much of Eagar since federal warrants were issued against him for tax evasion in 1998.

Aware of his repeated threats to fire on any law enforcement officer approaching the house and believing the house had been converted into a fortress, federal and local law enforcement chose not to pursue an arrest until Cooper began threatening local residents enjoying the view from the ridge near his home.

A warrant charging Cooper with aggravated assault and endangerment was obtained and Garms asked the sheriff's department's special response team to serve the document.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Department's SWAT team helped plan the approach on Cooper, in which two plainclothes deputies posed as a couple in a pickup truck.

Marinez was one of several deputies hiding under a tarp in the bed of the truck. Instead of surrendering when confronted, Cooper fled toward his house, firing on Marinez and Deputy Joe Goldsmith as they attempted to intercept him.

At least one shot struck Marinez in the head, fracturing his skull and pushing bone fragments into his brain. Cooper was killed by return fire.

The lawsuit filed in late February by Marinez and his wife, Kristi, alleges the botched arrest attempt caused the injuries which deprive Marinez of his constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.

It claims Hounshell, Tafoya, the county and other unnamed defendants placed Marinez in a situation they knew to be dangerous and for which he was not properly trained or equipped.

Specifically, the suit alleges "Defendants further removed from the Plaintiff essential equipment to protect his person by not allowing the Plaintiff to wear a protective SWAT helmet . . ."

During media interviews immediately following the shooting, Hounshell and Tafoya told reporters that protective helmets were made available but not all members of the SRT chose to wear them.

As a result of his injuries, Marinez is permanently disabled, Kristi has lost the consortium of her husband, and the family has incurred the cost of care, the suit claims. Compensation is requested for Marinez's injuries and disability; loss of wages; pain, suffering and emotional distress; and other general and punitive damages, however, no dollar amount is specified.

On advice of counsel, Mrs. Marinez declined to speak to the Independent regarding the suit.

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