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Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell asked about Charles Ryan case

The former state prisons director faces felony weapons charges in connection with a January standoff in which Tempe police said he pointed a gun at officers.

Charles Ryan’s case came up during a news conference Wednesday held by Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell.

Mitchell was asked about suspects charged with aggravated assault on police officers for pointing a gun at them. Ryan was not indicted for allegedly having done so.

“What people need to understand is that for aggravated assault charges to be filed, it’s not simply the pointing or brandishing of a gun,” said Mitchell. 

She said without injury, winning a conviction means prosecutors would have to prove intent.

Ryan is scheduled for arraignment on June 28.

Mitchell also said that in six months her office can significantly reduce, or completely eliminate, a backlog of officer involved shooting cases awaiting review.

Mitchell said she inherited a significant backlog of cases in which prosecutors have yet to decide if police should be charged for shooting suspects.

Mitchell told reporters that her office has found ways to streamline the review process. 

“My goal is to have those reviewed much more quickly so that families can get answers on that,” she said.

Mitchell later said she plans to retry a former Phoenix officer accused of sex crimes while on the force. A jury recently found Sean Pena not guilty of sexual assaulting one woman, but deadlocked on accusations involving others.    

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.