In the midst of a nationwide discussion about excessive force and transparency relating to police officers, footage has been released showing two incidents of alleged improper force on the part of the police in Phoenix. We should state that the use of body cams by police officers has generally been opposed by police unions and many police departments across the country. Both incidents were recorded by body cams, and the results are interesting, to say the least. The raw footage has been released by the Phoenix PD, though some say they should have made the videos public months ago.
The first of the two incidents involves what appears to be a transient woman, whose sole offense, if any, was trespassing (third degree misdemeanor) outside some property at North 31st Avenue. The police arrive, and try to get the woman to leave, and she does. She is walking down a public sidewalk, while she and the cops continue to hurl profanities at one another, when one of the officers sprays her with pepper spray. A few things we noticed on the video. First, one of the officers begins to chuckle after the woman is sprayed and begins to scream. Second, at the time she was sprayed, the woman was on the public sidewalk. And third, the first of the profanity we heard came from one of the officers. In any event, there was no offense being committed at the time of pepper spray.
The second incident involved a suspect who appears to have shattered front door glass at Metrocenter. He immediately assumed a prone position on the ground when officers arrived, lying on his stomach with both hands holding the back of his neck. The video shows the first officer on the scene jumping on the man and punching him repeatedly in the neck and side.
Both cases have been referred to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Officer for possible criminal charges. In the meantime, we still question (a) what reasonable basis exists to oppose body cams for police officers, and (b) the reason why these videos were not released until months after the events they captured.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004