Christensen arraigned on aggravated assault and DUI-drug charges

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Chad Christensen was arraigned in Graham County Superior Court on Tuesday on three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, DUI, DUI-drug, and false reporting to law enforcement.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Chad Fredrick Christensen, 50, of Thatcher, was arraigned in Graham County Superior Court on Tuesday on three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer – two Class-4 felonies and one Class-5 felony, resisting arrest – a Class-6 felony, DUI, DUI-drug, and false reporting to law enforcement – all Class-1 misdemeanors.

Christensen previously appeared in front of Justice of the Peace District 2 Judge Wyatt Palmer on Nov. 19 for a preliminary hearing in which the charges were bound over to Graham County Superior Court after Judge Palmer found the charges viable. A fourth aggravated assault charge was dismissed.

The charges stem from a traffic stop that went awry on April 16. According to Safford Police reports, Christensen was extremely agitated after being pulled over for minor traffic violations and appeared to be under the influence of some type of drug. Officers had encountered Christensen earlier in the day and noted he could not stand still and was making very fast, animated, jerky movements.

SPD Photo: Chad Christensen

During the traffic stop, Christensen exhibited the same type of behavior, which led the officer to begin a DUI-drug investigation. Christensen later advised he had taken various prescription medications that morning without food as recommended. The medications were later found in a safe in Christensen’s truck, along with a .45-caliber handgun. A large Bowie knife and a wooden club were also located inside the truck.

On Aug. 13, the Safford Police received a toxicology report from the Arizona Department of Public Safety Southern Regional Crime Laboratory regarding a blood sample taken from Christensen during his arrest. The report listed Christensen was positive for amphetamine at 92 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/ml) and methamphetamine at 160 ng/ml of blood.  

Body camera footage from the investigating officer during the traffic stop shows Christensen acting erratically and repeatedly cursing at the officer while calling family members to respond to the scene to video the interaction. When the officer requests Christensen’s driver’s license and registration – an everyday occurrence during a traffic stop – he is met with an accusation of harassment. 

After receiving the required documents, the officer informed Christensen to exit the vehicle, and Christensen initially refused. Christensen then abruptly opened his truck door, slightly striking the officer in the process. 

Christensen then closed the door and again refused to exit his truck and had to be forcibly removed from the vehicle. He then seemingly resisted as the officers attempted to place him into custody. At that time, his wife drove up to the scene and stopped in the middle of the street. 

The following video contains profanities from Christensen and is not safe for work (NSFW) audio with viewer discretion advised.