September 22, 2023

Phoenix agent in Miranda alert dies

The former Phoenix Police Department detective on the case that led to the national use of the Miranda alert during arrests in the early 1960s has passed away.

Caroll Cooley was in hospice in the Phoenix area when he died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on May 29, according to his family. He turned 87.

Eventually, Cooley rose to the rank of captain in the precinct and retired in 1979. He was a detective on a 1963 rape case that led to the conviction of Ernesto Miranda.

A written confession that Cooley obtained from Miranda became the centerpiece of the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case led to a reading of the rights of those arrested.

Miranda’s sentencing, Supreme Court case

Cooley worked the case and linked a partial license plate and car model to Miranda. Miranda was never informed of his rights, as law enforcement was not required to do so, and complied with Cooley’s request to accompany him to the police station.

Although he was not arrested, the rape victim and a robbery victim Miranda both chose a police lineup. Miranda had a history of arrests, including attempted rape, and matched the description of the suspect in several unsolved police crimes.

After telling Miranda he was cut from the lineup, Cooley asked him to write a confession.

“They accuse me of telling him what to write, which is absolute BS,” Cooley said in an interview.

Miranda’s lawyer objected to the written confession being admitted as evidence in court because the defendant had no legal counsel during his interrogation. The objection was rejected. Miranda received a rape and kidnapping conviction that was later upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court on the basis that the confession was not obtained illegally.

At the request of the American Civil Liberties Union, a Phoenix-based law firm took Miranda’s case to the Supreme Court, where it was led in 1966 among cases advocating violations of the Sixth Amendment. The constitutional amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to an attorney.

In pleadings, attorney John J. Flynn argued that the police violated Miranda’s Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.

The court agreed, 5-4, and the warning during arrest became common practice among law enforcement officers.

Miranda was retried and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison and paroled in 1972 before being imprisoned again for violating parole. He was finally released in 1975 and died the following year from a stabbing in a Phoenix bar fight.

Lawman disagreed with the decision

Cooley never agreed with the ruling, his widow, Glee Cooley, told The Arizona Republic in an interview Friday afternoon. Glee Cooley said her husband thought the police investigation was deterrent.

“You watch TV shows, the first thing they say is ‘I want a lawyer,’ so you never get the information you need to investigate,” Glee Cooley said. “He thought it was a mistake, but he couldn’t help it.”

Dennis Cooley told The Republic that his grandfather seemed proud of his role in history as he would treat his grandchildren to his part in the Miranda case.

Carroll F. Cooley was born on August 25, 1935 in Arkansas. He and his parents moved to Phoenix when he was one year old.

Cooley began his 21-year career with the Phoenix Police Department as a patrol officer in 1958. He then went on to work for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Married for 58 years, Carroll and Glee met when he was being cared for after a shooting he suffered in the face during an armed robbery. The doctor who healed his injury hired Glee. The bullet knocked out Carroll’s upper right teeth and lodged in his upper lip for life because it was too close to a nerve to remove.

Carroll Cooley was “a versatile, versatile sportsman” who won trophies for bodybuilding, enjoyed hunting and fishing and was an avid golfer, his widow said. The Cooleys went diving regularly for many years, with their favorite destination being the island of Roatán off the coast of Honduras.

In addition to his wife, Carroll Cooley is survived by four of five children, 12 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.

A service will be held at the Hansen Desert Hills Mortuary and Cemetery on East Bell Road in Scottsdale on June 15 at 1 p.m.

Reach breaking news reporter Jose R. Gonzalez at or on Twitter @jrgzztx.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Agent in Miranda Alert Dies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *