One-on-one: Phoenix police chief talks about Friday protest, arrests

Posted at 7:56 PM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 02:02:27-04

A pair of police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota last week created a weekend of contentious clashes between police and demonstrators around the country.

The frustration erupted into murder in Texas, with a gunman killing five Dallas police officers Thursday night during a protest.

Downtown Phoenix had its own violence Friday night as protestors hurled rocks at officers clad in riot gear.

“A majority of them were peaceable and things went smooth,” said Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner, who talked about the protestors in a one-on-one interview with ABC15. 

However, Yahner said there would have been a better time for the protest, which was organized by self-proclaimed civil rights leader Jarrett Maupin.

“Yes, I asked specifically that they don't do it. I asked [Maupin], specifically. We are mourning the death of five police officers in the Dallas community and tensions are high and there was no reason to do that protest on Friday night,” Yahner said.

Yahner said he personally laid out specific expectations for the protesters before and during the march through downtown Phoenix. 

“When we heard the protesters were planning to take the freeway (Interstate 10 at 7th Street), we made it very clear through our actions and even our face-to-face conversations with Mr. Maupin that that was not going to happen,” Yahner said. “As that transpired and some rocks were thrown, we made the decision to deploy some pepper balls.”

Yahner said the rock-throwing transitioned the demonstration from peaceful to illegal. That’s when officers started making arrests and telling people to leave.

In all, two officers were hit by flying rocks. Both are O.K. thanks to riot gear. Three people were arrested.

At some point, Yahner said he felt like Maupin lost control of his crowd.

“You say he was in charge of that protest-- I'm not quite sure because there was an element of that protest that I don't think followed the script that they had intended,” Yahner said.

The chief said some officers worked from Friday morning until after midnight. Overtime and damage to police cars will likely put the cost of the protest at roughly $100,000, according to Yahner. The charge will fall to Phoenix taxpayers.