This past June, Yuma's City Administrator Philip Rodriguez was involved in an incident on Interstate 8 on June 3, 2021. DPS says that Rodriguez's Toyota SUV caught up to an RV. The driver of that vehicle says that Rodriguez pulled up next to him and made "aggressive hand gestures." It was also noted that the SUV appeared to drive erratically, weaving in and out of lanes.
The City of Yuma released an official statement about Rodriguez whose resignation was made official yesterday on Yuma's city website. In the November 22, 2021 statement it says "City Administrator Rodriguez submitted his resignation effective January 22, 2022. Deputy City Administrator Jay Simonton will serve as Acting City Administrator in order to facilitate the transition and continuity of governance."
The statement which was released by the city council goes on to say "we know that the past few months have been challenging for the City of Yuma and Mr. Rodriguez. We would like to express that Mr. Rodriguez’ resignation is not reflective of his guilt or innocence, and we have full faith in the justice system to render a decision that is true and fair."
The incident in question that the city council referenced is in relation to that incident on Interstate 8. In the DPS report it details harassing behavior from Rodriguez in the parking lot of Days Inn on 16th Street which is not too far from the I-8 off-ramp.
The driver of the RV says he pulled into the parking lot and attempted to drive around to an opposite end of the parking lot. That's when he says that when he was cut off and blocked in by Rodriguez's SUV. He describes Rodriguez as appearing to take pictures of the RV before driving off.
A call to police was made by Rodriguez, but not exactly how one would think.
More than four hours later an officer responds, but reports that he did not see Rodriguez until the city administrator appeared with his attorney.
Yuma Police confirmed that Rodriguez called to report the incident. However, it wasn't 9-1-1, instead it was a direct call to Deputy Chief Lisa Culp who then sent the call to service to DPS since it happened on the highway.
According to Rodriguez, events played out a little differently.
State troopers were told by Rodriguez that he was traveling in the fast lane with cars both in front of him and behind him. The RV he says was beside him when it was the RV that began to swerve from side to side.
“(Rodriguez) noticed his right side mirror blind-side sensor turn on, indicating (the RV) veered into his lane, and appeared to him (the RV) struck the right rear corner of his vehicle,” troopers wrote.
What Rodriguez reported to authorities didn’t match video footage from the RV, which was equipped with cameras.
The RV's footage shows that at no point did the RV attempt to change lanes or was weaving within its lane before or after the impact with Rodriguez's SUV. What was shown was Rodriguez making unsafe lane changes. It also revealed that Rodriguez failed to stay at the scene after the collision.
A plea deal that was decided between the prosecution and defense regarding the traffic charges against Rodriguez will now have to be decided by a judge in Yuma.
Moving forward, the City of Yuma has appointed Interim City Administrator Jay Simonton. Simonton started his career at the City of Yuma as a project manager, specializing in water and wastewater infrastructure projects. He was promoted to Director of Utilities in 2010 and led the department for almost a decade before being promoted to the role of Deputy City Administrator.