Phoenix official is ‘comfortable’ with 1-day suspension of Chief Williams
PHOENIX – The city official who imposed a one-day suspension on Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said he’s comfortable with the length and doesn’t expect everyone to agree with him.
“I’m under no illusion that 1.7 million Phoenicians are all ever going to agree with a decision I make,” City Manager Ed Zuercher told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Friday.
“I made the decision based on full information of reading the reports and talking with folks who had done the investigations about what was appropriate. I made those decisions; I’m very comfortable with that.”
Zuercher suspended Williams for one day in connection with sham gang charges filed against people arrested last year at a Black Lives Matter protest and a controversial challenge coin.
The move was announced Thursday, when the city released the findings of an independent investigation into the incidents.
The fallout was revealed exactly one week after 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.
Other high-ranking police officials were also disciplined.
“I feel like she is the right chief to get this department where it needs to be,” Zuercher said.
“She’s been engaged in reform in her five years and [in the last two days] I’ve never seen her more focused and determined to be the chief that continues to elevate the Phoenix Police Department. She’s very disappointed that … these reports are what’s defining her department,” he said.
According to national law firm Ballard Spahr LLP’s report to the city, Williams wasn’t told about the decision made by police and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office officials to bring gang-related charges against 15 people arrested at a downtown Phoenix protest on Oct. 17, 2020.
That was troubling, Zuercher said.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office dropped all charges in June after a judge dismissed the cases, saying police and prosecutors had engaged in “egregious misconduct.”
Zuercher also issued a written reprimand to Williams related to the challenge coin incident.
The coins shared by officers mocked a man whom police shot in the groin with a nonlethal weapon during a 2017 protest at a Phoenix appearance by President Donald Trump.
Williams was appointed to the post in October 2016.