Safford police responded to the area of 14th Avenue and Discovery Park Boulevard last Thursday at approximately noon in reference to a man and woman fighting while riding bikes in the area. One of the officers found the woman, who was recognized from prior domestic violence incidents. The male party had apparently fled the area on a bicycle. Officers canvassed the area and found the man, identified as Michael Neely, riding a bicycle through a desert lot just north of 26th Street. Neely made an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the officers and was ultimately stopped and detained. Authorities reportedly found a mostly consumed bottle of Fireball whiskey in Neely’s possession while riding the bike.
Apparently, Neely is suspect in multiple cases, including a stolen bicycle. After officers questioned him about his involvement in other cases, an officer asked what happened between him and his girlfriend that day. He claimed that he and his girlfriend were riding bikes when she became very upset. He told the officer that his girlfriend has mental health issues and began acting irrationally. Neely said that he didn’t know why she became upset but said that he grabbed her and embraced her in a “hug,” and held her to try to calm her down. Neely said that he kissed her after he noticed that people were watching. Neely said that while he was holding his girlfriend, she bit his face and arm. The officer noted a bite mark on Neely’s face and right arm.
Another officer was talking to the woman and reported that she was being uncooperative and did not want action taken in the matter. A witness to the incident came forward with cell phone video of a portion of the couple’s confrontation. The video apparently showed the woman walking away from Neely when he came up behind her, grabbed her, pulled her into an embrace and would not let go. According to the police report the video clearly showed that the woman was trying to get away from Neely, and eventually broke free by pushing off of him and punching him in the chest.
The bicycles that the couple were riding were apparently stolen and Neely was also questioned about a shoplifting incident that he admitted to committing.
Neely was transported to the Safford police station, where he reportedly became somewhat belligerent and refusing to comply with the arrest. Neely was transported to the Graham County Jail and booked for domestic violence.
Later in the day, an officer was dispatched to Walmart regarding a bicycle theft. An employee had left work at approximately 5:00 PM and came outside to find that his bike had been stolen. He had left his bike in the rack in front of the store and secured it with a lock. Authorities watched security video footage that showed Neely and his girlfriend enter the Walmart parking lot from the north. Neely was peddling the bike and the woman was riding on the handle bars. They rode to the area of the bike rack and disappeared from camera view. A few moments later they came back into view, this time with the woman riding a bike as well.
Charges in the bike thefts are pending.