A group of Valley protesters arrested in multiple demonstrations have combined to file a notice of claim against the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
The 18 protesters, who intend to pursue a class-action lawsuit if the claim isn’t settled, collectively allege that they were wrongfully arrested at four different demonstrations in 2020 and then fraudulently indicted by prosecutors.
“There is a cost to be paid for gross abuses of power and obscene abdications of both public trust and professional duties, and it is substantial,” wrote attorneys who filed the claim on March 12.
As part of the “Politically Charged” investigation, ABC15 has spent months investigating protest cases brought by Phoenix police and county prosecutors.
The series exposed how police and prosecutors worked together to grossly exaggerate evidence and present clearly false testimony to grand juries to indict protesters.
ABC15 also uncovered that the members of the Phoenix police protest response team owned, shared, and sold challenge coins to celebrate violence against protesters.
The coin’s language is tied to hate speech.
The notice of claim warns the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office those facts will be a key focus in the lawsuit.
“If this case proceeds to trial, we will be tasked with showing the jury exactly what occurred here: A political alliance between a specialty police unit that trades in Neo-Nazi slogans and a specialty prosecutor unit created to support police objectives, deliberately created to suppress political speech, criminalize freedom of assembly, and ultimately disrupt, dismantle, and incapacitate the Movement for Black lives in the 5th largest city in the country,” the claim stated.
While the notice of claim was brought on behalf of 18 protesters, others could join.
The settlement amount listed in the claim to avoid a lawsuit: $119 million.
The number is symbolic.
For comparison and context, the notice of claim cites a series of unethical prosecutions brought by county prosecutors from 2009 to 2014 that cost taxpayers more than $40 million to defend and settle.
In those cases, then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio targeted political opponents.
As a result of ABC15’s reports, the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have each ordered separate outside investigations. There are also at least 16 officers and prosecutors who have been reassigned.
Cases against 30 protesters, including many listed in the claim, have also been dismissed.
The People's Law Firm represents the protesters.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has declined multiple interview requests to discuss the protest cases.
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.