Request for assistance follows discovery of body cam video showing officer predicting gas deployment, joking about using “toy” pepper ball gun
PHOENIX—After uncovering a video clip showing a Phoenix police officer calling a pepper ball gun a “toy” and predicting the use of chemical agents on protesters, the ACLU of Arizona is asking for the public to help review hours of videos of the August 22, 2017, protest that took place while President Trump was speaking in Phoenix.
The protest ended abruptly when Phoenix police officers began using excessive force against the crowds. Many Arizonans went home from the protest with cuts, bruises, and other injuries because of police actions.
In response to an ACLU of Arizona lawsuit, the Phoenix Police Department on Wednesday released hundreds of videos of the protest from officers’ body cameras and surveillance cameras. The ACLU of Arizona is now asking the public to help review the videos.
“We filed a lawsuit seeking these public records because Arizonans should be able to see for themselves how the Phoenix Police Department mishandled this peaceful protest,” said ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Kathy Brody.
The ACLU of Arizona’s public records lawsuit filed last month is pending. The Phoenix Police Department still has not provided many of the records the ACLU of Arizona requested months ago, including Phoenix Police Department communications, training materials, reports, weapons inventories, and policies related to officers’ actions at the protest.
A body camera video from 7:49 p.m. shows an officer predicting the use of chemical agents on protesters and joking about the use of pepper ball guns. An officer wearing riot gear and armed with a pepper ball gun passes by just before the following comments are made:
Officer 1: “Do you think they’re gonna deploy gas at some point?”
Officer 2: “It looks that way. The way he was coming out I thought he was gonna use that pepper ball gun and I was like, ‘I wanna play with the toy too.’”
At about 8:30 p.m., without any warning, Phoenix Police Department officers shot pepper balls, which release a gaseous irritant, deployed pepper spray, and fired rubber bullets into the crowds, which included children and people with mobility and respiratory issues.
“The Phoenix Police Department indiscriminately used chemical agents and other violent tactics on protesters,” said ACLU of Arizona Staff Attorney Darrell Hill. “The police cannot simply decide that they want to shut down a peaceful protest because they think it’s time for everyone to go home. That violates the First Amendment.”
Videos currently available for public review are online at www.acluaz.org/PhoenixTrumpProtest.