SPD recommends no charges be filed in death of man after domestic incident

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – The Safford Police Department has made a recommendation that no charges be filed in the tragic death of a man after a domestic incident that occurred on New Year’s Day at the Sunshine Apartments at 1901 S. 20th Ave. The Graham County Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the case.  

Sam Schwer, 31, died Sunday, Jan. 24, at a hospice facility in Tucson. Schwer was initially taken to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center on Jan. 1 after falling and striking his head – causing a traumatic brain injury. He was then flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, where he reportedly underwent brain surgery. 

Officers were initially dispatched to the scene at about 9:55 a.m. regarding a domestic incident that implied Schwer was struck by a vehicle driven by his girlfriend after an argument and that she had fled the scene. 

Safford officers and detectives located the 27-year-old female Safford resident, and she denied striking Schwer or running him over. A witness who was in her vehicle at the time corroborated her statement. 

Safford officers then performed a canvass of the area, and spoke to another witness with a different view, and obtained video surveillance from a local business. 

In the video, Schwer and the woman can be seen interacting after a white SUV parked. The woman then gets into the driver’s seat and Schwer appears to attempt to pull her back out of the vehicle. The driver then leaves the area with the door still ajar and Schwer loses his balance and falls to the street, hitting his head in the process. While the zoomed-in video is grainy, it appears to show the vehicle did not have any contact with Schwer and that he fell on his own accord. 

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

“The injury was non-vehicle related,” said SPD Captain Brian Avila. “He fell backward, causing the injury . . . The vehicle was not involved.”

After reviewing the video and interviewing witnesses and examining other evidence, the SPD recommended no criminal charges be filed against the driver of the SUV. The Graham County Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the case.