PHOENIX — For the past year, ABC15’s Politically Charged investigation has exposed how the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office colluded at the highest levels to target protesters and used their power to silence, frame, and punish critics.
It was a direct assault on a foundation of American democracy.
The Politically Charged special report is the definitive account of how police and prosecutors created a fake gang, falsely classified protesters as members, and then charged them with bogus felony crimes. Those cases are now a key focus in a sweeping Department of Justice pattern-of-practice investigation.
ABC15’s hour-long special is the culmination of more than 50 in-depth reports.
Watch the full hour-long special in the player above or here:
ABC15 titled the investigation Politically Charged for two reasons: The issues over police violence are politically charged and, more directly, it’s because protesters faced political charges in modern day political prosecutions.
That’s not hyperbole.
Politically Charged also exposed a deep-rooted and corrupted culture that drove officials in these protest cases.
More than 30 officials from Phoenix PD and MCAO met to approve the strategy to pursue gang charges, including three police assistant chiefs and a county division chief.
The special airs recordings and documents that proved there was a coordinated effort between multiple Phoenix-area departments and the FBI to gather intelligence on Black Lives Matter protesters.
And it’s not just the “gang” case.
Throughout 2020, we broadcast and published irrefutable evidence that Phoenix PD and MCAO intentionally abused and targeted police protesters for exercising their First Amendment rights.
The corruption also goes back years, including officers celebrating violence against protesters with memorabilia openly distributed within the department.
The direct and immediate impact of ABC15’s reporting was unprecedented and life-changing.
The fallout will last years, if not longer.
Every active felony protest case in Phoenix was dismissed. More than a dozen officers and prosecutors were reassigned. Five officers are facing criminal investigation. Four separate outside investigations were launched. High-level executives resigned. Assistant police chiefs were demoted. Multiple class-action lawsuits were filed.
And of course, there’s the Department of Justice, which is conducting a top-to-bottom investigation of the Phoenix Police Department.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.