An Arizona Minuteman scouting for drug runners and undocumented immigrants allegedly pointed his rifle at a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy after he mistook him for a drug smuggler, court paperwork stated.
Richard Malley, 49, and two other militia members were in a section of Interstate 8 commonly used by drug smugglers.
Two sheriff's deputies were checking mile markers in the same area and as they approached mile marker 140 Saturday night, the deputy flashed his lights and honked his horn. He said that's a common practice for him while attempting to get drug smugglers to run their vehicles up to his.
Malley appeared from the side of the road armed with an AR-15 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol and a fixed-blade knife, according to the probable cause statement. The two other militia members also emerged from the bushes and identified themselves as Robert Deatherage, 48, and Robert Crooks, 63.
Malley raised his rifle up and pointed it and a flashlight at the deputy, according to court paperwork.
The deputy identified himself as a law enforcement officer while Malley continued to aim the weapon at him and asked for identification, court documents said.
Malley identified himself as a militia minuteman and said he didn't carry any identification because he feared cartel members would find out he was a Minuteman, court paperwork stated.
The deputy showed Malley the patches on his sleeves, the word "sheriff" across his chest and his badge and told him to lay down his firearms. Malley refused, according to the probable cause statement.
The deputy then told several people there he wanted to wait for additional units to arrive before taking anyone's firearms for fear of making the situation more complicated.
Malley later said he felt threatened in the middle of the desert and believed the uniformed deputy was a drug smuggler working for a cartel, the court document stated.
Malley stated he felt he had the right to point his rifle at the deputy because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was being committed, according to the court document.
Malley was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on a charge of aggravated assault, a class 2 felony.
Both deputies were working enforcement along I-8 with a HIDTA task force. HIDTA stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.
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