Drenth Investigation: Officers Forced to Submit to DNA Testing - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Drenth Investigation: Officers Forced to Submit to DNA Testing


It's been more than a month and still no arrests in the death of Sergeant Sean Drenth. Now, officers are being forced to submit to DNA tests.

On October 18, Drenth was found shot to death near the State Capitol. Investigators say there were signs of a struggle, and the GPS system in his patrol car had been shut off.

No one has been arrested, and suicide has not been ruled out.

Fast forward one month to November 18. Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris announced the indictment of three police officers and one former police officer.

Former Officer George Emil Contreras was indicted on four felony counts, including fraud and theft. Current Officers, Steven Peck, Aaron Lentz and Sgt. Benjamin Sywarungsymun were also indicted. Contreras resigned shortly after the investigation started, just two years away from being able to retire with his full pension.

Contreras is alleged to have committed thefts in excess of $9,000, Lentz $2,000, Sywarungsymun $1,800 and Peck $1,700. According to the indictment, total losses are in excess of $16,000.

They're accused of billing for off-duty work they never performed. Harris also added that if Drenth lived, he would've been indicted too.

Twenty-five other cops were investigated, but the Attorney General's office found that their involvement did not rise to the criminal level.

Now, that overtime investigation and the investigation into the death of Sgt. Drenth, are merging.

The other 25 officers who were investigated but never charged have been ordered to undergo DNA testing. Police say that DNA evidence is needed in Drenth's murder case.

One of the officers being investigated for fraud was also one of the one first on scene when Sgt. Drenth was found dead.

The department won't discuss in detail any physical evidence collected the night Drenth was killed, but did say emergency responders and police have been asked to provide boot print samples in addition to DNA.

Police say some officers are investigative leads in the case -- but are stopping short of calling them suspects. According to a court order, detectives started collecting DNA samples Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.

The department was forced to get a court order after some initially refused.

"We have said from the beginning that we're going to do everything possible to determine what happened to Sgt. Drenth. This is where this investigation is taking us in this phase," says Sgt. Trent Crump.

Crump says they are working out three scenarios.

"We have a suicide made to look like a homicide. We have a homicide that is staged to be a suicide. Or we have a homicide that we can't figure out how or why things ended up how they ended up."

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association says testing all of those officers is completely unfair.

"It is troubling, it is concerning, and I think many of the officers who received these documents... one they're going to comply and number two it's insulting," says Levi Bolton.

Bolton says even if those DNA tests rule officers out, their reputation in the department will be ruined.

According to the court order, investigators have until Thanksgiving to collect DNA.

Those officers, although they were not criminally charged, are being investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau for misconduct. The officers' future with the department will be decided once their investigation concludes.

Full Coverage: Drenth Case

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