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News / Nation & World

Retired Phoenix police officer in landmark Miranda rights case dies at 87

By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press
Published: June 2, 2023, 4:52pm

PHOENIX (AP) — Retired Phoenix Police Capt. Carroll Cooley, the arresting officer in the landmark case partially responsible for the Supreme Court’s Miranda rights ruling that requires suspects be read their rights, has died, the department confirmed Friday. He was 87.

Phoenix police said in a brief statement that Cooley died on May 29 after an unspecified illness. The location and exact cause of his death were not immediately available, nor was information about services or survivors.

Cooley joined the Phoenix department in 1958 and retired two decades later.

On March 13, 1963, Cooley arrested Ernesto Miranda in the kidnap and rape of an 18-year-old Phoenix woman. Miranda was eventually convicted based on his handwritten confession and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.

Miranda appealed, and the case eventually went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a 1966 ruling overturning the conviction, saying that suspects should be advised of their constitutional rights against self-incrimination and to an attorney before questioning.

That decision, along with three other similar cases that were bundled together, led to the so-called “Miranda rights” or “Miranda warning,” which is familiar to anyone who has watched a police procedural drama on television.

“You have the right to remain silent,” it begins. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

“You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you,” it continues.

After the Supreme Court overturned his conviction, Miranda remained in jail on another conviction and was convicted again of raping and kidnapping the 18-year-old. Prosecutors at the second trial didn’t use the confession and instead relied on testimony from a woman who was close to Miranda.

After he was paroled, Miranda was fatally stabbed in February 1976 in a dispute during a card game at a downtown Phoenix bar.

During his career with Phoenix police, Cooley worked in the city’s Maryvale precinct, the general investigations bureau, and the police academy. He rose to become captain, a rank the department said is equivalent to commander today.

After retiring from the police department in December 1978, Cooley went on to work for the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

He also volunteered at the Phoenix Police Museum, where in 2013 he recounted his story before a 50th anniversary display about the Miranda arrest.

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