SAFFORD – Authorities were called to Ace Hardware in Safford last Saturday when employees called to report the theft of a set of keys. Witnesses said that a male wearing shorts and a dark shirt took the keys from inside the truck and left the area walking west on 8th Street.
An off-duty officer heard the call and saw a subject he knew as Michael Neely standing in the intersection of 8th Street and 8th Avenue. Neely was holding a set of keys and a small drill. An on-duty officer made contact with Neely in the intersection, but as the officer approached, Neely began to walk away. Another officer arrived on the location and noted that Neely appeared to look around for a place to go and the officer thought was going to run.
The officers managed to detain the suspect in handcuffs and told him they needed the keys back. He told them that they were in his pocket. An officer asked Neely why he took the keys but he would not answer. He then stated that someone had given him the keys. The officer told Neely that people had seen him take the keys from the truck. Witnesses said that Neely walked around the truck looking inside, then took the keys that had been left inside the cab and walked away.
Neely also had a Dremmel tool in his possession. The officer tried to ascertain where it came from but could not get a clear explanation.
Neely was transported the to the Graham County Jail. According to the police report, his demeanor was slow and he would not respond to the officer or the detention staff consistently. The officer noted that Neely was taken to dress out and the officer heard the detention officer instruct him several times to change his clothes. Neely was apparently told several times that he would be pepper sprayed if he did not comply. The officer heard pepper spray deployed several times before Neely was pulled out and placed in a restraint chair.