Victims named in the DOJ report on police brutality in Phoenix are calling on the city to enact mandatory reforms

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix residents who have spoken out against police brutality on Friday praised a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Justice that outlined a pattern of excessive force and racial discrimination, saying the blame should not fall solely on law enforcement lies, but also with the leaders of the fifth largest city in the country.

Jarrett Maupin, a Phoenix-based activist known for his work with victims of police brutality, said the city owes the affected families an apology and financial compensation.

“The city owes these families an apology. And more than that, they literally and figuratively owe them millions of dollars because of the injuries they suffered, the deaths they suffered, the losses they suffered,” Maupin said.

The in-depth civil rights investigation found “overwhelming statistical evidence” that Phoenix police discriminate against Black, Hispanic and Native American people, unlawfully detain homeless people and use excessive force. The report says that researchers found stark contrasts in how officers enforce certain crimes (particularly at low levels) depending on a person’s race, and that officers tended to fire their weapons unnecessarily or delay aiding the injured “unreasonably.” to establish”.

Dravon Ames, who received a payout from the city after officers pointed their guns at him and his pregnant fiancée in 2019, told reporters Friday that he finally felt like his voice was heard. Police suspected shoplifting at the time, but no one was ever charged. The couple says that their young daughter, unbeknownst to them, took a doll from a store. He hopes the city of Phoenix will agree to the reforms ordered by the federal court.

“I think if they sign an executive order, get oversight and get on the right track, there will be a change,” Ames said. “That’s the whole point of their findings. They (the DOJ) let them know there’s a problem, you know, and it’s 126 pages of problems.

Ben Crump, the Florida-based attorney who has become the voice for Black people killed by police and vigilantes, is representing the family of Akeem Terrell, a man who died in a Phoenix jail in 2021. He said he hopes the report’s recommendations will improve police culture.

“While we continue to fight for justice for Akeem, we also continue to fight for those who are still here with us. There should be no new Akeem Terrell,” Crump said in a statement. “It is critical that law enforcement follows guidelines such as those from the DOJ to better protect our communities.”

The report does not say whether the federal government is pursuing a court-ordered reform plan known as a consent decree, but a Justice Department official told reporters that method has been used to implement reforms in similar cases. Litigation is an option if the ministry is unable to obtain a consent decree.

Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan said in a statement that the department needs time to thoroughly review the findings, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a statement that city officials would meet on June 25 to provide legal advice and discuss next steps.

Meanwhile, Darrell Kriplean, president of a local police union, called the Justice Department’s investigation a “farce” and said it is “only interested in taking control of local police away from communities.”

Phoenix is ​​the fifth largest city in the country. Similar DOJ investigations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Baltimore and elsewhere have revealed systemic problems related to excessive force and civil rights violations, some of which resulted in costly consent decrees that lasted years.

Maupin believes that calling for police accountability, even if it means deploying prosecutors, is not anti-police.

“Let me make this clear: We are not anti-police,” Maupin said, as some supporters nodded in agreement. “We’re not standing here saying ‘defund the police’ and all that. We want a police department that knows how to police, how to protect and how to serve.”

He also warned that inaction from local Democratic politicians like Mayor Kate Gallego could drive away black voters.

“I suggest we think long and hard before voting for anyone on the City Council, including the mayor, who is up for election,” Maupin said. “And I think we’re voting long and hard about what’s in our best interest.”

Sandra Slaton, a civil rights attorney who represents several people in lawsuits against the city alleging excessive force, acknowledged that the Biden administration deserved some credit for the Justice Department’s conduct of the report.

“I am confident that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this would not happen under Trump’s Justice Department,” Slaton said.

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