PHOENIX — In 2020, ABC15 aired more than 70 in-depth stories looking at concerns about police brutality and how police departments were responding to calls for reform.
We reported on officer-involved shootings, police misconduct, excessive force, civil rights violations, racial bias, and failures in transparency and accountability. We looked at the role of police body-worn cameras, de-escalation training, and policing of people with mental illness.
Our coverage this year went beyond the protests to the families affected by police misconduct and the inner workings of police department policy.
Our reporting showed:
- Officers demonstrating a disregard for human life when they failed to render medical aid to people who they shot.
- A sheriff openly admitting that his jailers inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on a mentally ill grandma.
- Phoenix police are much more likely to point a gun at a black person.
- Criminal investigations of police officers favor the officers and result in lesser punishments than regular people.
- If you speak out against police misconduct, you could face swift and harsh retaliation.
- Too often treatable mental illness leads to dangerous police encounters.
- Police pay lip service to de-escalation, which is not reflected in training.
We are also seeing efforts within police departments to release information and settle legal claims more quickly. The state board that oversees police officer certification, training, and discipline is rewriting instruction manuals for new officers. In addition, police unions are starting to embrace some reform proposals pushed by protesters.
See links below to many of our 2020 stories on policing:
Policing people of color:
- Phoenix police point guns at people 10 times a day, other major cities have stricter policies
- Tempe officer investigated after holding Black man at gunpoint while looking for white suspect
- Famed attorney to represent hotel employee in $2.5m police claim
- Video: Tempe police tried to minimize hotel worker's racial bias complaint
- Tempe disciplines officer, settles hotel gunpoint claim
Police shootings and excessive force claims:
- St. Louis Superman files legal claim for Phoenix protest arrest
- Arizona's 'I can't breathe' case - Officers pinned Mesa man in 2018 arrest as he begged for help
- PHX released video of white officers shooting Black man in the back
- MCSO sued for fugitive team's shooting of Elijah Boatley
- Family of suspect shot, killed by Mesa PD calls for transparency in recent incident
- Phoenix officer accused of assaulting woman during arrest
- Phoenix Police may have shot unarmed man in the back in domestic dispute call
- Scottsdale family challenges police use of force in federal appeals court
- Scottsdale family awaits federal appeals court decision
- Valley man claims Pinal deputies used excessive force
Criminal cops and other misconduct:
- Video released: Mesa PD shoots unarmed man
- Mesa defends release of blurred PD body cam video
- Judge dismisses criminal case against Mesa ex-officer
- Officers are rarely charged with crimes for actions on duty
- Woman claims Phoenix officer sexually abused her
- Woman sues Phoenix police after on-duty officer allegedly raped her
- Funeral-crashing cop won't face criminal charges
- Judge admits criminal sentence "can seem unfair" for U.S. Marshal caught sniffing girl's dirty panties
- Decorated Mesa officer faces domestic violence indictment, investigation took 18 months
- Gilbert sergeant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor
- Documents detail Mesa officer's sexual harassment
Police accountability and transparency:
- Vigil for Ahwatukee man who Phoenix police shot after he answered door with a gun
- Police shooting death of James Garcia, partial bodycam video released – contradictions
- Pressure mounts for PD to release July 4 shooting video
- Controversial July 4th shooting sparks change at Phoenix
- Video: Phoenix officer shoots, kills Ahwatukee man Ryan Whitaker
- Arizona Cities slower to act on 'Floyd' reforms
- AZ Police Association admits reforms would improve community trust in police
- Hundreds protest Mesa Police
- How Phoenix police are taught to 'de-escalate'
- AZPOST says reform is coming to police training
- Changing how Arizona police use force
- List: AZ police agencies using body cameras
- The Maricopa County attorney wants all officers to have body-worn cameras
- DPS troopers will get some body-worn cameras
- Most AZ police agencies don't share use-of-force data with FBI
- Phoenix, 2 other Valley agencies will miss January 1 NIBRS deadline
- Tempe police reform meeting was closed to the public
- Future Tempe advisory meetings will be public after the first one was not
- Phoenix City Council approves citizen review board
- Phoenix city council backtracks, votes against establishing rules for police-citizen review office
Mental illness and dangerous police encounters:
- Ex-NFL player remembered as 'gentle giant' after he was fatally shot by Phoenix police
- Ekom Udofia dealing with mental illness, had BB gun in PD confrontation
- Video shows PHX police holding man on hot street before his death
- Girlfriend: Man who died in Phoenix PD custody feared officers would kill him
- Did PHX officers violate restraint policy before in-custody death
- Valley mom hopes to prevent deadly police action on mental health calls
Gila County jail inmate forced to drink toilet water:
- Arizona woman drank from the toilet when jail shut off water to her cell
- Arizona judge calls out "deeply concerning" treatment of jail inmates
- Gila jail officers violated policies prior to inmate suicide
- Woman in Gila Co. Jail abuse case is charged with crimes
- Charges dropped against Arizona woman who drank toilet water in jail
- AZ grandma sues jail after being forced to drink toilet water
- Mesa SWAT shoots man with bean bag rounds while serving warrant
- Officer defends Mesa SWAT team's use of force caught on video
- Mesa PD: Officers' actions were appropriate in bean bag shooting of Lorenzo Jones
- Mesa officers sued over 2018 arrest and beating
Other policing stories:
- Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir to resign Oct. 25
- Tempe police chief wants officers to emphasize dignity and respect
- $150,000 settlement to former Tempe police chief and his wife draws criticism
- Former Goodyear P.D. Chief says there was a conspiracy to discredit him
- Whistleblower Ex-Scottsdale Police Commander fights to get job back