MCAO releases results of 2nd investigation into bogus gang charges

Aug 13, 2021, 1:30 PM | Updated: 6:59 pm
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel in the KTAR News 92.3 FM studio on Feb. 26, 2020. (KTAR News...
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel in the KTAR News 92.3 FM studio on Feb. 26, 2020. (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX – The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Thursday evening released the findings of an independent investigation into bogus gang charges pursued against people arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest last year.

MCAO issued its report several hours after the city of Phoenix released the findings of a separate independent review into the police department’s role in the cases.

Prosecutors brought gang-related charges against 15 people arrested at a downtown Phoenix protest last October. MCAO withdrew all charges in June after a judge dismissed the cases and said police and prosecutors had engaged in “egregious misconduct.”

MCAO, the agency responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in metro Phoenix, hired retired Judge Roland Steinle to investigate the matter.

County Attorney Allister Adel said in a statement that Steinle focused on documents – “thousands of emails, case information, policies and procedures, correspondence” – and interviewed three employees.

Steinle determined that prosecutors acted “in bad faith.”

“In this case, what happened at the protest march of Oct. 17, 2020. was reduced to a ‘narrative’ crafted upon police reports. This narrative has been found by the judge in the criminal case to contain material misrepresentations of evidence and where in the prosecutor assisted in misdirecting the grand jury,” he wrote.

“Further, the judge found that state failed to provide relevant exculpatory evidence or correct misleading information and the state acted in bad faith in presenting evidence.”

He also provided numerous recommendations for improving MCAO procedures, some of which Adel said have already been implemented.

“In these cases, we made mistakes,” Adel said. “As an agency charged with doing justice, we must be willing to admit this. And, moreover, we must be willing to correct them.

“Much of our work in this office is holding people accountable for their actions when they do not meet society’s expectations. We must be willing to hold ourselves accountable as well.”

Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher suspended Chief Jeri Williams over the police department’s role in the gang charges based on findings from an investigation conducted by law firm Ballard Spahr LLP.

Other high-ranking police officials were also disciplined, and Zuercher asked the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation into the trumped-up gang charges.

Both the MCAO and Phoenix police reports were released one week from the day the U.S. Department of Justice said it was launching a probe into the Phoenix Police Department over potential civil rights violations and abuses of power.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said it will review the department’s use-of-force practices and also look for patterns of retaliation over activity protected under the First Amendment.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Murder charge in Arizona against divorce lawyer dismissed

A murder charge filed in Arizona against a California lawyer in the 2010 shooting death of his stepdaughter’s husband has been dismissed.
19 hours ago
(Pexels photo)...

2-year-old girl dies after drowning incident in Phoenix

A 2-year-old girl has died after being pulled out of a pool in Phoenix on Thanksgiving day, police said.
19 hours ago
(The Pick Lottery Photo)...

The Pick lottery ticket sold at Walmart in Surprise hits $8.8 million jackpot

If you bought a ticket for Wednesday night's The Pick lottery drawing in the West Valley, you'll want to check those numbers.
19 hours ago
(Pixabay Photo)...

Police investigate death of 27-year-old man found in Phoenix

Police are investigating the death of a 27-year-old man found in Phoenix Thursday morning.
19 hours ago
FILE - Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a cooler before being thawed at a pop-u...

Arizona reports 3,322 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths on Friday

Arizona health officials on Friday reported 3,322 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths.
19 hours ago
(Courtesy photos L-R: Phoenix Zoo, CityScape Phoenix, Downtown Tempe Authority, Valley Metro)...

Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around the Valley for Nov. 26-28

The holiday season is in full swing with multiple month-long events getting started across the Valley. Here are some of the biggest events around the Phoenix area.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
MCAO releases results of 2nd investigation into bogus gang charges