Conflicting accounts of a fight involving a police officer at Peter Piper Pizza
Police need witnesses' help as they search for the truth.
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Has it happened again? An internal investigation is underway by Tucson Police Department to determine the involvement of at least one off-duty officer in a fight at Peter Piper Pizza on the eastside.
Police told 9OYS that there are contradictions in the stories the victim and witnesses are telling then and what they're hearing from the officer involved. And they are looking for the truth.
It's important because police are trying to figure out if charges could be filed against the man who they say punched an officer or the police officer could face disciplinary action if he stepped out of line and didn't follow proper policies and procedures.
Police said two Peter Piper Pizza managers stopped the man at the door and told him he wasn't allowed in after he had earlier been seen taking food off of customers plates.
Lt. Fabian Pacheco said that's when the argument broke out.
"This individual was belligerent and intoxicated," Pacheco said. "At that point, the manager sees the officer outside on the cell phone and recognizes him as an off-duty police officer. He says, 'You're an officer, can you help us?'"
This is where the confusion begins. A Peter Piper Pizza corporate employee we spoke with on the phone said the manager didn't ask for help. The off-duty officer offered to step in after he saw the manager and the man arguing.
Another conflicting detail: Pacheco said that the man became agressive and ripped the officer's shirt.
"And punched him in the face. That started a physical altercation," Pacheco said.
Pacheco said the officer wrestled the man to the ground and then pulled his gun when the man began reaching into his pocket.
"Not knowing whether he's reaching for some type of weapon -- whether a knife or a gun -- the officer stepped back and pulled out his handgun, pointed it at the subject and said, 'You're under arrest, stay on the ground,'" Pacheco said.
But one 9OYS viewer sent us an email with a different account. She said she witnessed the off duty officer "pointing a gun at the guy's face" as "they slowly walked up the sidewalk."
Another conflicting detail: Lt. Pacheco said when the officer put his gun away, the man walked away.
"When he tried to detain him because he's already told him he's under arrest, this male turns around and punches him in the face -- a second time -- then pins the officer against the car," Pacheco said.
But another witness KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos spoke to on the phone said he didn't see the man punch the officer. He said the officer instead came up from behind and punched the man in the face -- at least three times.
Cavazos asked Pacheco: 'If he punched the police officer in the face, isn't that immediately aggravated assault?"
Pacheco: "Yes, it is."
Cavazos: "So why then isn't the man charged? Wouldn't the officer have evidence of being punched in the face?"
Pacheco: 'Yes, now the question is: at the time that the officer was taking enforcement action, whether or not he identified himself to this male as a police officer.
And that answer could determine the fate of the man and the off-duty officer.
"That's why we're reaching out to some of the people who have seen a portion of it so we can get a clearer picture as to what happened," Pacheco said.
Pacheco said TPD have already interviewed several witnesses. One witness KGUN9 spoke to on the phone said that there were about 50 people inside the restaurant, who were watching the situation unfold. Tucson Police would like to hear from anyone who was there -- either inside and outside the restaurant.