A Phoenix city council candidate is facing backlash over an encounter with a Russian food store owner, in which he tells the man, “I’m not in your country.”
Doug Middleton, the elected constable of the Dreamy Draw precinct of Maricopa County’s Justice Court system, was serving Yasha Store Owner Nerik Gadaev with a judgment on July 6, the Phoenix New Times reported. The $3,500 judgment was related to a financial dispute involving another food vendor.
Store surveillance video captured the interaction between Middleton and staff members, which shows the constable threatening to shut down the store, kick out the employees and “sell” the property, the New Times indicated. The footage has since been posted in two parts on the YouTube Channel of Josh Kelety
“Somebody like that should not be in power,” Gadaev told the newspaper. “It looked like he was abusing his status because he’s an elected official.”
“I don’t know what it was, if it was like a power trip or something,” he added.
The store owner recounted to the New Times that he asked to speak to Middleton outside after giving him the money. He requested to take the conversation outdoors because he didn’t want Middleton’s “intimidating behavior” to upset anyone inside.
The constable then grew angry and “stormed inside the shop,” the outlet said. The footage captures the interactions that ensued.
At one point, Middleton is heard telling Gadaev, “I’m not in your country, I don’t play your rules.”
The owner, who is a U.S. citizen of Russian descent, then replies, “What country? I’m a U.S. citizen. What are you talking about?”
You can watch a clip of the encounter below:
Middleton is currently a prospective candidate for the District 3 seat on the Phoenix City Council, the New Times disclosed.
Heavy has reached out to Middleton for a comment.
Middleton First Pressured a Female Employee for Gadaev’s Number, Video Shows
The video obtained by the Phoenix New Times shows Middleton “repeatedly pressured a female employee for Gadaev’s phone number, threatening to shut down the store and lock the doors,” the outlet wrote.
“You’re not understanding what’s going on. This is a serious matter. I’m not playing games. I’m not some vendor that you can push me away,” Middleton told the woman. “I will shut your door and throw you out the door, you got it? This is serious stuff.”
“You better give me his phone number because otherwise I’m going to close you down and you’re not going to have a job,” he added. “I could already lock you out.”
“Don’t scream at me please,” she said.
Gadaev wasn’t on the premises at the time of the incident, according to the New Times.
Middleton is No Stranger to Controversy
The Phoenix New Times reported that Middleton, a Phoenix elected constable since 1997, “has a history of unseemly behavior.”
In 2001, the Republican was convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, according to court records obtained by the newspaper.
A complaint was filed against Middleton in 2017 with the Constable Ethics, Standards and Training Board, accusing him of “rude and made inappropriate offensive statements” while serving a writ of restitution, the outlet indicated.
Middleton was later determined by the board to have made the comments and was given a warning, the Phoenix New Times wrote.