Judge Orders Trial On Phoenix Police's Excessive Use Of Force Against Protestors

lawyer holding a pen

Phoenix, AZ —  This week, a federal judge ordered a trial in the case Puente v. City of Phoenix, a case that was filed by the ACLU of Arizona and civil rights firm Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP in 2018. Other co-counsel on the case are  Goodwin Procter LLP, Mitchell Stein Carey Chapman, PLC, Kay, McLane, Badenarksi and Litt LLP, Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP, and Public Counsel. The judge’s ruling means that a jury will see and hear the evidence of the Phoenix Police Department’s violent dispersal of protesters and the harms suffered by those protesters when they were targeted and struck by the chemical and impact weapons deployed by police.

On August 22, 2017, Phoenix police officers violently ended a peaceful protest, following former President Trump’s rally, by firing hundreds of projectiles indiscriminately and attacking protesters with heavy weaponry including pepper balls, tear gas canisters, and batons. Many Arizonans went home from the protest with physical and emotional trauma because of police actions.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Poder in Action, Puente Human Rights Movement, and four individual plaintiffs. The trial will address the claims of three of the individual plaintiffs. No trial date has been set yet. Final resolution of the class claims will have to be decided later, after an appeal.

“This has been a long-awaited trial and we are prepared to present our strong case to a jury,” said Jared Keenan, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Arizona. “Since the beginning, Phoenix police have been adamant that they did nothing wrong - an unnerving thing to claim when videos and images of that night demonstrate people in a state of distress and fear. Following that night, the department has continued to use excessive force on people exercising their right to assemble. Phoenix Police need to be reigned in – and we’ll be in court fighting to make sure that happens.” 

“The physical and emotional pain inflicted on peaceful protesters by the violent actions of the Phoenix Police is still felt today. It is inexcusable that the Phoenix Police later celebrated this violence by making and trading a challenge coin,” said Viri Hernandez, executive director for Poder in Action. “The officers involved must be held accountable at trial.”

The ruling can be found here: https://www.acluaz.org/sites/default/files/336_-_order_denying_pts_msj_granting_dfs_msj_as_to_pts_classwide_claims.pdf.  More information about the lawsuit is available here: https://www.acluaz.org/en/cases/puente-v-city-phoenix.

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