The Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office has declined to conduct forensic tests on evidence from a shooting incident involving Deputy Louie Puroll despite statements from forensic experts that the lawman’s bullet wound could not have occurred as he described, reports the Arizona Republic. Puroll reported on April 30 that he had been ambushed while tracking drug smugglers in the desert, suffering a grazing flesh wound to the side during an exchange of gunfire that was partially recorded in 911 calls. By the time rescuers arrived, a half-dozen purported suspects had fled. But experts who studied photographs of the wound said it appeared to them to be the result of a “close contact” gunshot. They argued that it could not have been fired by a distant suspect, as Puroll told sheriff’s investigators.
“It’s not consistent with 25 yards away,” said Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, who analyzed photographs of the wound for an Arizona tabloid. “This is extremely typical of a shot fired within inches.” “This was fired at contact range . . . with the muzzle of the gun lying against the skin,” asserted Dr. Werner Spitz, a former chief medical examiner in Michigan and co-author of a forensic pathology book, who also viewed the pictures. Puroll has declined all interview requests. Both experts said their conclusions could be further verified by lab examinations of the shirt Puroll wore on the day of the shooting. Tim Gaffney, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the garment was not submitted for testing, and he has not heard of any plan to reconsider that decision.