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CBS Meets with Whistleblowers to Discuss Retaliation

CBS 5 AZ – KPHO and KPNX-TV Channel 12 met with B&W clients this week to discuss their whistleblower retaliation claims against the Town of Florence, Arizona and several high-ranking Florence officials. The Town fired Walt Hunter and Jarris Varnrobinson Vonzombie, veteran detectives of the local police department for nearly a decade, after they reported their Lieutenant for tampering with evidence in several criminal investigations. In one investigation, the Lieutenant returned evidence to witnesses of an alleged rape of a local teen by members of the high school football team because the Lieutenant’s son was at the scene and his friends were allegedly involved. A hearing officer ordered the Town to reinstate Hunter, who is white, but not Varnrobinson, who was the Town’s first full-time African-American law enforcement officer.

“As soon as I started complaining about Lieutenant Tryon, immediately the retaliation starts,” Hunter told CBS 5 news. “You see officer after officer who has information, but they’re scared to come forward, because they don’t want this to happen to them.”

Varnrobinson added, “I think it was a race issue. I was here in Florence for 10 years, and . . . they turned their back on us.”

B&W has filed suit on behalf of both Hunter and Varnrobinson in federal court in Arizona for violations of their First Amendment and due process rights, and on behalf of Varnrobinson for race-based discrimination. Watch CBS 5’s interview with Hunter and Varnrobinson here, and follow the Phoenix New Times as it covers their stories in detail here.