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Arizona Democrats request special session to address police reform

People march near Phoenix Police Headquarters, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Phoenix, while protesting the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona Democrats on Tuesday requested a special session to address police reform after the death of George Floyd while in custody sparked ongoing unrest in the country.

Eight Senate and House Democrats sent a letter to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey calling for the session, which would discuss body camera usage, deadly use of force investigations, a police officer database and more.

“As elected leaders with the ability and power to elicit change, we must commit ourselves to do better, to listen and learn from those closest to this pain and turn that into action,” the letter said.

Democrat leaders brought up police killings in Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa as other reasons a special session is needed.

Dion Johnson was also mentioned in the letter.

Johnson, 28, died May 25, the same day as Floyd, after a Department of Public Safety trooper on patrol found Johnson asleep or passed out in a car on the eastbound gore point of Loop 101 in north Phoenix near Tatum Boulevard at around 5:30 a.m., according to the Phoenix Police Department, which is investigating the case.

Police said a struggle ensued after the trooper contacted Johnson and the trooper shot Johnson. A handgun was recovered at the scene, police said.

Phoenix protesters have been citing Johnson’s name along with Floyd’s during nightly demonstrations opposing police violence against minorities.

Rep. Reginald Bolding, one of the authors of the letter advocating for a special session, wrote a letter Monday to DPS Director Col. Heston Silbert seeking more transparency in the case.

“These demonstrations are a nationwide show of solidarity and demand for change over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, unanswered questions surrounding the shooting death of Dion Johnson by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper, and to bring an end to racism and police brutality in our communities,” the letter said.

The Arizona Senate voted to adjourn on May 26 but at least one special session is expected to be called to address ongoing coronavirus issues.

“The time to show leadership is now, the time to act is now,” the letter said. “We hope you will join our efforts to create real change for our communities.”

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