ACLU sues Phoenix police for use-of-force records at Trump rally (VIDEOS)
The lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court states that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona submitted a public-records request to the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) following the altercation between protesters and police, but have not yet received the documents, AZ Central reported.
The lawsuit asserts that officials from the PPD have acknowledged that they gathered records which would satisfy requests from the ACLU, and have used this information to defend the department against criticism.
As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU asked a judge on Tuesday to order the police to release the records and declare that the department has “failed to perform its duty” as required by public records law.
On August 22, a mostly peaceful protest outside a Trump rally in downtown Phoenix came to a close with police dispersing pepper spray balls and flash bangs against thousands of people protesting at the rally.
Kathy Brody, the ACLU of Arizona legal director, stated that the ACLU was sent “many, many complaints” following the protest.
“The department failed to protect the First Amendment rights of demonstrators that night,” Brody said, AZ Central reported. “Now, the public deserves to see the critical records documenting the Phoenix Police Department's actions.”
Following the incident between police and the protesters, the department played a video for reporters that appeared to show a group of demonstrators wearing black and lobbing objects at the police. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said officers were forced to respond to the protesters after the objects were thrown at them, according to AZ Central.
Then, on August 28, after the police showed the video, the ACLU decided to file a request for “all video recordings” police had obtained depicting events at the rally.
But the Phoenix police have refused to provide the records in question until it completes an “after action report,” according to an email included in the lawsuit, AZ Central reported. The report is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
ACLU attorneys say this stance runs contrary to the state's public record laws, which demand that government agencies adhere to requests for records in a timely manner.
Local videographer Dennis Gilman, who was present on the night of the protest, released a video he shot, which appears to contradict statements made by police in regards to what initially sparked officers to take action against the protesters.
The video appears to depict an officer coming behind a row of police, and tapping them on the shoulder just before the officers initially start taking action against the protesters. Meanwhile, at this time, the protesters do not appear to be throwing objects at, or threatening the police.
On Monday, six individuals began to stand trial in relation with violent demonstrations that took place on January 20 in Washington DC, as Trump was sworn in as the 45th president. During the inauguration ceremony, protesters did more than $100,000 in damage to the US capitol, USA Today reported.