Tucson police Officer Claude Ralls, who police say shot and killed a man Thursday, has won some of the department’s most prestigious awards and has twice been involved in shootings.
A 26-year veteran of the force, Ralls was given the Chief of Police Citation of Excellence in 2005 and the department’s Officer of the Year award in 1995, Citizen archives show.
Thursday’s shooting – which left Louis Richard Arboisiere, 32, of Nogales dead – is Ralls’ third shooting since 2004.
A Citizen database of TPD internal affairs investigations shows Ralls was exonerated in a shooting in 2005 in which he was accused of acting with a racial bias.
His shots were ruled justified in a 2004 shooting when he and another officer, Heriberto Orozco, shot and killed a man who had earlier been standing naked outside his home and firing his gun.
Neighbors called 911 and the man, Philip B. Camacho, 42, was killed after he pointed the gun at the officers and refused to drop the firearm.
Thursday’s shooting was again the product of someone disobeying police orders, a police spokesman said.
Ralls used his squad car to block the driveway of a home at 706 N. San Rafael Ave., where police suspected drug activity, when Arboisiere came out of the house and tried to drive away, Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said.
Ralls told Arboisiere to stop, but he did not, Pacheco said. Ralls shot him, and Arboisiere died later that afternoon in the hospital.
The car Arboisiere was in when he was shot was associated with an armed robbery in Sahuarita, Pacheco said. It was one of the reasons Ralls stopped in front of the house.
Online court records show Arboisiere had been twice indicted for aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Records also show indictments for theft, aggravated driving under the influence and a smattering of traffic and drug offenses.The records do not indicate if he was convicted in any of the indictments. He was found guilty of attempted theft in Santa Cruz County in 2003.
Five of the eight people at the San Rafael Avenue house were arrested Thursday, Pacheco said.
After the shooting, Ralls was placed on paid leave, standard procedure in such cases, police Lt. Claudette Gross said.
The incident and Ralls’ decision to fire shots are being investigated by detectives in the Crimes Against Persons Division and the Office of Professional Standards, Pacheco said. Findings will be reviewed by the Pima County Attorney’s Office and a police board of inquiry.
By Ryn Gargulinski, Carli Brosseau