PHOENIX — Mayor Kate Gallego is declining to hold a new hearing into Phoenix’s role in falsely charging protesters after a pair of city council members requested a public session.
Vice Mayor Laura Pastor and Councilmember Carlos Garcia issued a joint statement Monday requesting the meeting following Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel’s recent resignation.
“We cannot sweep this under the rug and Adel’s resignation should point to the severity of the situation,” Pastor and Garcia said. “The Phoenix City Council has a responsibility to hold a discussion on what happened with the cases of protesters who were wrongfully charged and to discuss the high-ranking city officials and representatives that have been implicated as well as what we must do next to ensure it does not happen again.”
An hour later, Gallego released the following statement.
“There have been multiple investigations into cases involving protesters in 2020. The previous city manager delivered significant discipline and enacted policy changes. The incident is also the subject of several multi-million-dollar lawsuits to which the City of Phoenix is a party,” Gallego said. “Because the court cases are ongoing, the city is restricted in its ability to publicly discuss these matters. Since the parties involved have chosen that route, we will need to complete the judicial process before engaging in a policy meeting on this subject.”
The request from Garcia and Pastor comes after ABC15 recently exposed never-before-seen internal messages sent between MCAO officials and top city leaders.
In one message, Councilman Sal Diciccio texted a top MCAO director and asked what was needed from the city to re-file the bogus charges against protesters.
ABC15 has reported extensively on the collusion between Phoenix police and Maricopa County prosecutors to invent a gang and then falsely charge protesters as members.
Officials from both offices grossly exaggerated evidence and lied to a grand jury to get the charges.
The Department of Justice opened a pattern-of-practice investigation into the protest cases following ABC15’s reports.
The city also hired an outside law firm to investigate.
The outside probe confirmed ABC15’s reporting but was unable to link Chief Jeri Williams and Executive Chief Mike Kurtenbach to the scheme.
The law firm, however, criticized the police department for failing to fully cooperate and withholding some requested documents.
Three assistant police chiefs who were demoted because of the scandal are now planning to sue the city and claim that Chief Williams and Kurtenbach are lying about their lack of knowledge in the bogus gang case.
Contact ABC15 Chief Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.