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12/31/2012 3:17:00 PM
Prescott Valley police chief goes on record about bar fight allegations
An undated photo shows Iron Brotherhood Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Whiskey Row Chapter members.
Courtesy photo
An undated photo shows Iron Brotherhood Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Whiskey Row Chapter members.
Courtesy photo
By Heidi Dahms Foster and Lisa Irish

Prescott Valley Police Chief Bill Fessler issued a statement Saturday acknowledging that he was in a Prescott bar when a confrontation allegedly occurred on Dec. 22, but adamantly denied that he and another Prescott Valley officer were involved in a physical altercation.

At 11 p.m. on Dec. 22, Prescott police officers spoke with an alleged assault victim, a 23-year-old Glendale man, at Yavapai Regional Medical Center's west campus, according to a news release from the Prescott Police Department.

The man told officers he was in a downtown bar, and said he was punched several times by members of what he believed to be a motorcycle club. He was treated for a facial injury and then released from the hospital, according to the news release.

Prescott police officers initially responded to the complaint and found that the motorcycle riders in question were members of the Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club, made up of current and former police officers from around the state, including several local officers. Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel said he then requested that the incident be investigated by the Department of Public Safety Special Investigations Unit to avoid any potential perceived conflict of interest.

Prescott Police Lt. Ken Morley said Saturday that videotape of the incident has been obtained and is in the hands of DPS. "I haven't looked at it, and I don't think even (Chief Kabbel) has. It was turned over to DPS," he said.

Local officials largely declined to talk about the incident - including listing names of those involved - until the DPS investigation is complete. However, Fessler decided to issue his statement after a Phoenix TV station named three high-ranking local officers, including Fessler, as having been involved in a fight, which allegedly took place while some of the club members were in the bar after a Christmas party.

"One would never expect that you would be plastered on the headlines over something you didn't do, several days later," Fessler said. "I have been told that I have been implicated in a bar fight, had actually thrown blows, and did so for no apparent reason. The accusations, I assure you, when the truth is revealed, will be (proven false)."

Fessler said he has been involved in law enforcement motorcycle clubs for 14 years, and knows that some people don't agree with the culture of such clubs.

"I can tell you that I have been surrounded by hard-working, family-minded, ethical, police officers and members of public safety (positions) who just like to ride Harley Davidsons, and if they were not, they wouldn't be riding with me," he said.

Fessler said the group, before the event, obtained a parking permit to prevent problems downtown, secured hotel rooms and designated drivers, and reserved a private area to celebrate the holiday. At 10 p.m., when the reserved area was opened to the public, Fessler said, it became too crowded, and club members dispersed to other establishments on Whiskey Row.

He declined to further discuss specifics of the incident because he did not want to hinder the DPS investigation, he said.

"DPS will provide a thorough, detailed investigation and at that time the truth will be told," he said. The disappointing thing, he added, is that "those damages are already done, and really good people and their families get hurt."

Fessler said that although he did not engage in unlawful activity by riding in the motorcycle club, he has withdrawn from the organization to prevent future accusations that might shed a negative light on the Prescott Valley Police Department.

"This incident will not deter the professionalism of this agency, nor will it change the goals of the service provided to the community," he said. "I can only pray that time is given to allow the truth to be told and the accused can be cleared of these damning accusations about truly good people."

Morley said DPS is working to complete the investigation as quickly as possible.

"They came up Christmas Eve," he said. "They are putting a rush on it to make sure that it's cleared up as soon as they can."

Morley said local police agencies pride themselves on keeping a good reputation.

"We live here, and raise families here. And because (officers) were there at the event doesn't mean they did something wrong," he said.

Related Stories:
• Video: Whiskey Row bar fight involving police officers
• Un-redacted reports shed light on Whiskey Row bar fight
• Prescott PD releases some details on alleged bar fight involving police motorcycle club

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tired of business as usual...

Here's proof that steroids and alcohol do not mix...

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: may be falsely accused may be not

well fessler now you know how it feels to be falsely accused it sucks doesn't it?

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: E Pluribus

Police officers should be held to higher standards. They know that along with the power comes the responsibility to act accordingly.

The chief of police playing weekend biker in a local bar? I worked in public safety in another state for 30 years and this type of behavior would be unacceptable. I hope the public follows this to ensure adequate sanctions result.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Doesnt Matter

@Club Affiliation- you might want to get your facts straight before your open your mouth. There is no affiliation with HA!! They may be bikers but they are not criminals. A allegation like that deserve a clarification which i am happy to make.

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: alf landon

These guys have worn out their welcome in most PV bars, so have to go to Prescott now.

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: Club Affliation

Did the public also know that this club is affliated with the HA? This will all go away very clean and the public will never know the outcome! A high ranking official should be accountable for his actions, but once again this will not happen.

Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Article comment by: Audrey Parker

Perception is everything and about everything. Things may not be as they appear to be, but it is the first impression that counts, how one initially perceives things. This does not look good. A police chief and a fellow police officer in a bar where law enforcement bikers are hanging out, and a fist fight erupts. Then there is a victim beaten up by these bikers - notwithstanding they are law enforcement officers. Nice. Much mayhem arises from alcohol consumption. It is unfortunate that the police chie and officers are associated with the consumption of acohol, a bar fight, and a man being physically abused by bikers who happen to be police officers, or retired police officers. Good going Mr. Fessler if you can put better light on this. Speeded up investigation? Yes, I'd say so, faster than a civilian would get that's for sure.

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