'I'm also a police officer': Arizona deputy uses racial slur, pleads for release after being pulled over for DUI

Wilson Wong
·3 min read
Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Julian Navarrette is the subject of an internal investigation after he was arrested for DUI in Tempe in December, 2020. (via ASU Police)

Newly obtained body camera video captured an Arizona sheriff's deputy using a racial slur and pleading to be let off the hook after an officer pulled him over in December on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Julian Navarrette was stopped after an Arizona State University police officer observed him speeding and swerving about 2 a.m. Dec. 5 in Tempe, according to an ASU police report. Navarrette was out with friends at the time of the arrest, the report said.

When the ASU officer confronted the off-duty deputy about driving under the influence, video obtained by NBC affiliate KPNX showed Navarrette admitting that he was, saying, "Yeah, but I'm also a police officer."

“How much have you had to drink tonight?” the officer asked.

“Just a couple drinks," Navarrette said.

Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Julian Navarrette is the subject of an internal investigation after he was arrested for DUI in Tempe in December, 2020. (via ASU Police)
Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Julian Navarrette is the subject of an internal investigation after he was arrested for DUI in Tempe in December, 2020. (via ASU Police)

Navarrette flashed the officer his badge, according to the footage. The officer then asked Navarrette to step out of his car after confirming he worked for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

“I’ve done this whole spiel man. What are we going through?” Navarrette said in response. “Can we let anybody else in the vehicle go through this?”

The ASU officer said it didn't matter if he was a deputy.

“Then that puts my job at risk, right?” Navarrette said.

“You don’t think it’s gonna put mine at risk if I don’t do this?” the officer replied.

“Dude, I understand but can I, can I, maybe someone else, put, like, behind the wheel? Behind the wheel?" Navarrette said. “Don’t put my f— career at risk.”

He pleaded for his release again.

“This isn’t New York man," the ASU officer said.

“New York? N—, I’m from Arizona dude. I’m not from New York," Navarrette said.

After the ASU officer conducted a field sobriety test, Navarrette took a Breathalyzer test and blew a 0.121, the police report said. The legal limit in Arizona is 0.08. Navarette was arrested on a DUI charge and taken into custody at the ASU police station, the report said.

There, Navarrette asked the officer why he didn't give him a pass, according to the footage.

“You couldn’t f— give me the opportunity to park the car," he said. "No one reported it."

“The fact that you’re telling me that tells me you shouldn’t be an officer," the officer said.

A spokesperson for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office told KPNX that Navarrette was initially placed on modified duty. During that time, he was prohibited from driving a patrol car and rode with another deputy while taking regular calls for service.

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As of Monday, however, the spokesperson said Navarrette returned to regular duty.

The spokesperson declined to comment further, but said that "Deputy Navarrette is currently the subject of an internal investigation related to this incident, and as such we cannot discuss the case."

"Our officers handled themselves in a professional manner, as they would with any subject they encounter," the ASU Police Department said in a statement.

Navarrette told the news station that he did not want to make a statement at this time.

Efforts to reach Navarrette by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful.