Arizona Republicans should pay heed to what happened this week at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Rachel Mitchell, the Republican elected to the job in 2022, announced she would not prosecute two Phoenix police officers who shot and killed a man who was hurling rocks at a patrol car and later at them.
Mitchell was in charge of the case because she did not run for office as a MAGA Republican.
She did not kiss the Trump ring. She did not climb into the Stop-the-Steal barrel and ride it over Fantasy Falls to crushing defeat, as did so many other Arizona Republicans.
No, she ran as a traditional Republican. And she won.
Where would we be if Rachel Mitchell lost?
Consequently, Mitchell was not standing on the sidelines nursing her wounds and playing the victim this week to phantom schemes of election theft.
She was standing in the breach as protesters and an attorney pressing a wrongful-death claim demanded that two officers be fired and hauled to prison for shooting and killing Ali Osman.
The 34-year-old Osman was not just tossing rocks on Sept. 24 near 19th and Glendale avenues. He was whipping them at full strength and at close range at the lawmen.
It may be news to some people, but it’s not news to cops that a hurled rock can kill them.
For you Republicans out there still sixteen of Donald Trump, still willing to risk a fourth election cycle of Republican defeat to make him and other MAGA candidates the party’s nominees in the 2024 general election, it’s time to consider the counterfactual.
What if Rachel Mitchell had lost?
What if she had campaigned in the red ball cap, as did Kari Lake and Abe Hamedeh and Blake Masters and Mark Finchem — you know, the losers?
It’s likely those officers would face a bleach future
Julie Gunnigle, an attorney funded and groomed in the likeness of soft-on-crime, tough-on-cops Democratic prosecutors, would be your county attorney today.
Gunnigle was going to be the next George Gascón, who as a Los Angeles district attorney is notorious for his gentle treatment of violent offenders.
She was going to be the next Chesa Boudin, the San Francisco DA who proved so felon-friendly that even the left-wing Bay Area could no longer abide him.
Gunnigle wore her contempt for cops like an imperial plume, flirting with defund-the-cop schemes and planning tribunals to investigate them.
Had Gunnigle won the county attorney job, there is a high likelihood those two police officers would be facing a bleach future.
The Gunnigle who ran for office would likely have sympathized with the lawyer demanding $85 million for Osman’s death and asserting that it “is another disturbing example of the extreme indifference to human life continuously demonstrated by the [Phoenix Police Department] and its officers.”
Phoenix police were justified in their conduct
On Wednesday, Mitchell stood her ground and said it was the rock-hurling Osman, in fact, who had shown extreme indifference to human life.
The rocks Osman was throwing “posed a serious threat to every motorist and pedestrian in that area,” Mitchell said.
“Osman had a rock in his hand, ready to throw it directly at the officer when the officer made the decision to shoot. And that decision was a reasonable one based on the force that Mr. Osman had used against them and was continuing to use them.”
The left doesn’t want to hear this, but police officers have to make split-second decisions that can determine whether they live or die or spend their next decades in prison.
Because they have the extraordinary powers to take people into custody or to take life in extreme circumstances, they face enormous scrutiny.
For Mitchell and Gunnigle:‘Who won in 2020?’ is a trick question
We don’t expect doctors and lawyers and teachers to wear body cameras. We expect that of cops.
On the flip side, because the personal risk the police take on is enormous, we have created laws that ensure we don’t crush every police officer who acts in good faith in incidents that turn tragic.
So Mitchell explained, “The law does not require a person using deadly physical force to prove their conduct was justified. Rather, the law requires the state to prove the person’s conduct was not justified under the law beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Under Arizona law, the officers’ decision to shoot was justified, she said.
Why Republicans need to win elections
All across the United States, the American left has worked to demoralize and marginalize police officers. They have broad-brushed them as brutes and made their jobs a living hell.
Yes, it is good and right to call out police brutality when it happens. But it is wrong to stereotype a million American cops as rogues.
Democrats have elected district attorneys who desire police officers and coddle criminals. They want to bleed the nation’s police departments of resources as they stigmatize the men and women in uniform.
As a result, police work has become the dregs.
Officers are retiring early and few young people want to become cops. Police recruiting across the nation and in Phoenix is way down.
Criminals are turning department stores and pharmacies in our major cities into turnstiles for shoplifters. Big cities have stripped police officers of the authority to clean up loitering and vagrancy and are making Los Angeles and Portland and San Francisco and Seattle look like sprawling skid rows.
Last week, comedian Dave Chappelle took one good look at San Francisco and asked his audience there, “What the f— happened to this place?”
“Y’all…need a Batman!”
In Maricopa County, we have a county attorney with the guts to defend police officers when the facts support them.
She is there because in 2022 she wasn’t just another MAGA sheep headed to the slaughter. She won her election.
And when she won, so did we.
Phil Boas is an editorial columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].