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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Officer James Peters: Scottsdale's Dirty Harry

     During the period November 2002 through February 2012, Scottsdale, Arizona police officer James Peters shot at seven people, killing six of them. From this, one might conclude that Scottsdale, the Phoenix area suburb of 220,000, was the site of daily shootouts between the police and a large population of violent criminals. But this wasn't the case. In 2011, the Scottsdale police only shot one person, and it wasn't fatal. By comparison, the police in Phoenix that year shot 16, killing 9.

     How could one member of a police department made up of 435 sworn officers, shoot so many people in a relatively low crime city? After say, the third shooting incident, why wasn't this man psychologically evaluated, and at the very least, put behind a desk? Moreover, didn't the officer himself ask himself why he was the only guy on the force doing all of the shooting?

     On November 3, 2002, roughly two years after joining the police department, Peters, as a member of the SWAT team, responded to a domestic violence call at the home of a man named Albert Redford. Following a 4-hour standoff, Peters and two other SWAT officers fired seven shots at the suspect, hitting him three times. Mr. Redford died a few hours later in the emergency room. As it turned out, none of the fatal bullets had been fired from Peter's rifle. An investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office cleared all three officers of wrongdoing

     Officer Peters, on March 25, 2003, responded to a call regarding shotgun blasts coming from the home of a distraught, disbarred attorney named Brent Bradshaw. Three hours later, Peters and his follow officers encountered the 47-year-old suspect wandering along the Arizona Canal carrying a shotgun. When Mr. Bradshaw refused to drop his weapon, Peters dropped him with a shot to the head. This shooting was declared justified.

     On October 10, 2005, Officer Peters shot and killed Mark Wesley Smith. High on methamphetamine, Smith was smashing car windows with a pipe outside an auto-body shop.  In justifying his use of deadly force in this case, Peters said the subject had threatened a fellow officer with the pipe.

     Brian Daniel Brown, 28, took a Safeway grocery store employee hostage on April 23, 2006 after he had hijacked a Krispy Kreme delivery truck. After killing this hostage taker, the department awarded Officer Peters a medal of valor.

     Peters and Scottsdale officer Tom Myers were in Mesa, Arizona on August 30, 2006 hoping to question Kevin Hutchings, a suspect in an assault committed earlier that evening in Scottsdale. After Mr. Hutchings fired a shot from inside his house, the officers had the power company cut off electricity to the dwelling. When the armed man came out of his house to investigate the power outage, Peters shot him to death. The city, in this case, ended up paying the Hutchings family an out of court settlement of $75,000. Even so, the department declared this shooting justified, and Officer Peters kept his assignment as a street cop even though he had killed two people in one year.

     On February 17, 2010, Officer Peters and Detective Scott Gailbraith confronted 46-year-old Jimmy Hammack, a suspect in five Phoenix and Scottsdale bank robberies. When Hammack drove his pickup truck toward the detective, Peters shot him. A few days later, Hammack died in the hospital. This shooting, on the grounds the subject was using his vehicle as a deadly weapon, went into the books as justified.

The Killing of John Loxas

     John Loxas, 50, lived alone in a trash-littered house near Vista De Camino Park in Scottsdale. In 2010, police arrested him for displaying a handgun in public. On February 14, 2012, Peters and five other officers responded to a 911 call concerning Loxas who reportedly was threatening his neighbors with a firearm. To complicate matters, Loxas, who regularly babysat his 9-month-old grandson, had the child in his arms while intimidating the neighbors.

     When Peters and the other officers arrived at the scene, Mr. Loxas and the baby were back inside the house. When ordered to exit the dwelling, Loxas, still holding the child, appeared in the doorway. As the subject turned to reenter the house, and lowered the baby exposing his upper torso and head, Peters, thinking he saw a black object in Loxas' hand, shot him in the head from 18 feet. The subject, killed instantly by the bullet from Peter's rifle, collapsed to the ground still holding the baby. Fortunately, and perhaps miraculously, the infant was not injured.

     As it turned out, at the time Officer Peters killed Mr. Loxas, the subject was not armed, or within reach of a weapon. Police did find, in the dead man's living room, a loaded handgun hidden between the arm and cushion of a stuffed chair. Farther into the dwelling, searchers discovered a shotgun, several "Airsoft"-type rifles and pistols, and a "functional improvised explosive device."

     In explaining why he had shot Mr. Loxas, Officer Peters said he had been concerned for the safety of the baby. Peters was placed on paid administrative leave pending yet another police involved shooting investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Critics of the shooting, including some of Loxas' neighbors, protested the incident outside the police department.

     Except for the Safeway hostage case in April 2006, most police officers, faced with the choices presented to Officer Peters, probably would not have exercised deadly force. This didn't mean that Peters had committed criminal acts, or that his shootings were even  administratively unjustified. It just meant that most officers wouldn't have been so quick to pull the trigger. If it were otherwise, every year thousands rather than hundreds of people would die at the hands of the police.

     Because Mr. Loxas had been armed shortly before the police arrived at the scene, and Officer Peters thought the subject was holding a handgun when he shot him, this case was ruled a justifiable homicide. Whether or not, under the circumstances, the killing of Mr. Loxas was the right thing to do, was another question altogether.
     On June 22, 2012, the Scottsdale police board for the Public Safety Retirement System approved Officer Peters' application for early retirement based on some unnamed disability. He received a pension of $4,500 a month for life. Not bad for 12 years of work. No wonder the country was going broke, and people in the private sector resented the government.

     In September 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, on behalf of John Loxas' relatives, sued the city of Scottsdale. The Scottsdale City Council, in June 2013, approved a court settlement of $4.25 million. The Loxas family had originally sought $7.5 million in damages. The city of Scottsdale, in this case, was self-insured up to $2 million, a sum that would have to be paid by municipal taxpayers. Officer James Peters had been one costly cop. 


  1. Scottsdale Police Public Information Officer (PIO) Mark W Clark wrote this article: "Public Response to In-Custody Deaths" in Police Magazine


  2. Put yourself in that officers shoes and you would probable be dead now!!

    1. I seriously doubt any decent police would have killed so many, and would still be alive to talk about it. The man is a murder 3 times over. There might be one out of those seven that was truly justified. This man should have been tried for murder and if found guilty, which he would have been, executed as a serial killer.

    2. john was a family friend and a good man .you have no clue what you are talking about.

  3. That did injury the baby, not today, but now he has to grow up with the second most important person in his life.

    1. I guarantee this kid is perfectly happy being a millionaire. And who can predict what adverse effects that unstable atmosphere may have had on him. John Loxas shouldn't be dead, and I'm sure there are people who miss him, but I bet that child isn't one of them.

    2. Well you don't know that family or John ! You are wrong his grandson is missing out not having him!

  4. This man is a dirt ball I can speak from experience. He is a public menace with a uniform. When he cuffed me he cuffed me so tight my wrists were left with bruises and another officer loosened my cuffs and looked a little surprised at how tight they were. Literally digging into my bone. This guy gets off on this. James Peters should be in jail

    1. This reply indicates more about his true nature than any of responses. It's in his dna to punish without due process.

  5. There is something horribly wrong here, the citizens of Scottsdale should consider themselves very fortunate...they are safe now..

  6. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/james-peters/71/7ba/636

    Peters now trains law enforcement officers. Scary!!!

  7. We can't read this guys mind, so I don't think we can judge any individual incident. maybe he really did believe Loxas to be a threat to the child (though certainly not to the officer if he was turning to go back in the house.). And we know he was brandishing a gun around the neighborhood earlier, which has to suggest some type of mental problem. Still, a pattern of behavior by a cop that led to so many deaths should have been investigated years earlier. The irony is, the city is forced to pay both sides of this tragic encounter. If they had tried to take away his pension, he could have sued and won much more in court.

  8. I live less than a half mile from where this serial killer cop killed his last trophy in his eyes.I was scared to death this prick was going to show up at my front door . I would have shot first.There are some things worse than dying like living under the rule of cops like that!Shaun Firth you are the kind that allow these kinds of cops to exist."Maybe he reallydid believe Loxas to be a threat to the child"bull shit .Coming from a grandfather.

  9. Crazy!Too bad he got away with our money.

  10. I have had the unfortunate experience of meeting officer Peters and his partner back before he had shot anyone in Scottsdale.
    I was the sales manager at a Hyundai dealer. The police were called to ask an unruly customer to leave. When the police arrived officer Peters escalated a simple civic matter to a terrifying experience.
    He threatened to arrest me and told me to shut up not wanting to hear any facts. His partner, my employees and other customers were all shocked and scared by this mans actions.
    Wants he left I immediately call the Lieutenant on duty and told him the story. I told him I had a Law Enforcement background and was disappointed on how he handled this seemingly simple situation.
    I wonder how many other citizen complaints this officer had and what was done???
    Every time that I saw that Peters had killed someone I was shocked, dismayed and not surprised.
    A shame he is walking around and public and training people when to draw their weapon.

    1. Omg..peters harassed my son for a few years that in he would bring him down and put him in prison.for no reason.he was mad my kid told the truth to police and got in no trouble!stalked him down and harassed us at our home peeking in Windows illegally and more!he spit tht in my face in front of my young daughter while doing a bogus house search an finding nothing of course.the Scottsdale police ruined my life killed my son's father and covered it up and yes my son is in prison to finish probation so they all leave him alone.probation the mental health courts and the police were are so corrupt.i even contacted news stations about the death of my x the Scottsdale police found dead by our home and we were railroaded never informed phones tapped oh much more.fuck you Scottsdale police and Peters who was hired by tempe police to teach others to shoot!!!!even tempe harrassed us.you all should be in jail dirty pieces of shit.i got a story to tell.

  11. I retired from the Scottsdale Police Department after 21 years of service and was present and/or involved in three of Peters' shootings. You very purposefully failed to mention some of the nuances in a number of the shootings. These details are in the formal reports and I can speak from my first-hand knowledge of the events:

    In regards to the Bradshaw shooting, you failed to mention that Mr. Bradshaw was sitting on the end of the canal with the rifle in his lap. Upon the arrival of Ofc. Peters, Bradshaw stood, turned towards and pointed the rifle at Ofc. Peters prior to Peters engaging.

    The Safeway incident involves a series of very violent pre-shooting events. The suspect in this case had taken hostages. Peters was part of the rapid response team sent to address the hostage situation. When law enforcement entered the building, we were present with an armed suspect threatening the hostages with is weapon. If you want input if this should have been a justified shooting, you should as the people he was holding hostage.

    Lastly, a post incident warrant on the home of Loxas found a number of weapons. One was in close proximity to the location of the child and a second was found sitting against the front door frame, just inside where police were contacting him.