PHOENIX — After the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office dismissed charges against a group of protesters charged as a criminal street gang, one of those cases has now been dismissed with prejudice.
The defendant, Ryder Collins, is clear of any future legal issues in the case.
Collins was not protesting on the night of October 17.
Instead, he was swept up by overzealous officers who falsely testified that he “impeded their arrests” and “worked in concert” with the group.
ABC15 profiled Collins' arrest as part of the first report in our “Politically Charged” investigation.
His attorney, Katie Gipson McLean, celebrated the announcement on Twitter last week.
“I am glad they finally did the right thing by him. I hope that they do the right thing by others,” she wrote.
The 17 other defendants in the case still could face new charges.
However, Phoenix police and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office are both facing separate outside investigations in a growing scandal about the how they mishandled the case.
Collins is a registered nurse from Prescott.
He was in downtown Phoenix that night to shoot photography of the buildings and sunset. He saw the protest happening and followed along on the sidewalk.
Newly-obtained video from multiple officers involved in Collins’ arrest further contradicts testimony given to a grand jury by Phoenix police and county prosecutors.
The video does not show Collins impede officers arresting the group. It actually shows the opposite. Collins is on the opposite street corner next to a group of extremist counter protesters who were not arrested.
During his arrest, Officer George Herr continues to degrade Collins and accuse him of things he didn’t do.
COLLINS: I didn’t know this was a thing until like 30 minutes ago.
HERR: You can hear, right?
RYDER: I didn’t, I turned around.
HERR: So you could hear them tell you you need to leave, and you chose not to so you’re going to jail. Do dumb sh**. Win dumb prizes.
ABC15 confirmed Herr was one of several officers who owned a celebratory prize for shooting a protester in the groin with a pepper ball in 2017. The challenge coins, which have language mimicking hate speech, are now the subject of an outside investigation.
Herr also criticizes Collins for asking the officers to be careful with his camera equipment.
HERR: You’re awfully demanding for being part of a riot.
RYDER: I didn’t mean any trouble guys, I’m sorry. We don’t have anything like this in Prescott.
HERR: There’s a reason for that, right?
RYDER Yeah, there is.
HERR: Well, you should have stayed there.
RYDER: I apologize.
HERR: Now you get to visit 4th Avenue Jail.
ABC15’s investigation into “gang” charges found police and prosecutors provided the grand jury with gross exaggerations, dubious claims, and outright lies.
In one stunning example, officials testified that they believed the group of protesters were comparable to the Bloods, Crips, and Hells Angels.
Further evidence shows officers coordinated specifically with the county attorney’s office before arrests were finalized.
Editor’s note: This report is part of an ongoing series of ABC15 investigative reports called “Politically Charged.” The series can be found at abc15.com/protests. Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@abc15.com.