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State accused of hiding video evidence in prison whistleblower case

Lead Chain
Posted at 4:38 AM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-17 13:43:00-04

PHOENIX — In the criminal case against a prison whistleblower, state corrections officials and county prosecutors are being accused of withholding video evidence that could be used to prove the defendant’s charges are retaliatory.

Lieutenant Mark Hasz was fired and then charged with aggravated assault after a use-of-force incident on July 21, 2020, inside the Lewis prison complex.

RELATED: A crime or retaliation? ABC15 investigates prison whistleblower facing charges 

As part of his defense, Hasz’s attorney convinced the court to order the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to turn over video and records from a year’s worth of use-of-force incidents at the prison.

Court records show there were more than 400 incidents subject to the court’s order. In recent court hearings, however, Hasz’s attorney has alleged that they know of multiple “egregious” incidents that have not been disclosed.

“We know there are three videos of pretty egregious violations of ADOC’s use of force that have not been provided. I don’t know if they’re trying to cherry-pick videos and not disclose the worst ones or not,” said defense attorney Thomas Baker, during a July hearing.

The county attorney’s office denied that any videos are being “willfully withheld.”

“The allegation that MCAO has withheld any discovery is not accurate,” according to a statement released by MCAO.

“Per the court’s direction, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is handling the release of some disclosure in this case because they represent the ADCRR. Discovery requested by the defense, and ordered by the court, is in the process of being reviewed and redacted for disclosure. This involves an extremely large amount of video and it is being prepared for release by the AG’s Office. We are not aware of any videos or use of force reports being willfully withheld. The County Attorney’s Office will ensure all discovery obligations are met.” the statement read.

ABC15 has obtained video and records from a use-of-force incident that has not been disclosed to the defense.

The video shows a large group of officers struggling with an inmate with serious mental illness.

While handcuffed, the inmate was shot with chemical munitions and tasered multiple times. Officers also used “lead chain” to try to control the inmate.

Prosecutors have repeatedly tried to fight the release of videos and records in other use of force cases to Hasz and his defense team.

“The State believes Defendant’s purpose of obtaining and showing the videos is to support a defense of everyone else was doing the same thing and did not get prosecuted,” Deputy County Attorney Adriana Genco wrote in an October 2021 motion.

Months before the use-of-force incident that led to his criminal charges, Hasz spoke publicly to ABC15 about concerns inside the prison system and how officials were responding to COVID-19.

In addition to the “lead chain” video, ABC15 separately obtained leaked videos of violent incidents that raise questions about the cases ADCRR has chosen to refer for prosecution or keep to themselves.

The Arizona Department of Corrections declined to comment on the case and did not address allegations about the missing videos.

Contact ABC15 Chief Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.