A judge will have to determine whether remarks made by a Pima County Sheriff’s Department sergeant constitute free speech or a violation of departmental conduct, based on a lawsuit against Sheriff Chris Nanos and the agency.

On April 24, the Pima County Sheriffs Department initiated an internal investigation following a complaint against Sergeant Aaron Cross. According to a nine-page injunction, Cross was accused of making “untruthful and negative remarks about an employee organization” during an April 20 radio interview with local radio station KVOI.

During the interview, Cross said, “As I mentioned the [Pima County Deputy Sheriffs] Association, theyre commonly viewed as being completely in the pocket of Sheriff Nanos.”

Cross discussed union issues and his role as president of the Pima County Sheriffs Deputy Organization, which he established in January 2023.

Cross is also a member of the statewide union AZ-COPS, providing legal representation to its members. His attorney, Steve Serbalik, stated that the lawsuit was filed after Cross requested the cancellation of an internal interview on April 26, citing First Amendment violations. Serbalik added, “He was ordered to discuss issues as a condition of his employment that have absolutely no business being compelled.”

Serbalik mentioned they were notified on Monday, May 13, via a memo that the internal investigation was concluded.

Sheriff Nanos confirmed the investigation was complete and no wrongdoing was found during Cross’s April 20 radio interview. Nanos stated, “Its his right to sue and I have attorneys as well. But I think a court of law would rule in our favor.”

KGUN 9 attempted to contact Sergeant Eric Cervantez, president of the Pima County Deputy Sheriff Association, the union referenced by Cross in the interview and the one who filed the initial complaint. Cervantez responded with “no comment” to the interview request.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Nanos indicated that Cross is facing a second complaint, without providing further details on the ongoing issue.