THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Friday, August 31, 2012

Feds bail out on Arpaio investigation. Surprised?


Cowards. Now he's free to run amok again, abusing his power. Why do we really think we can trust the police to police the police, anyway? Join Phoenix COPWATCH instead of signing a stupid petition appealing to Uncle Sam to rescue us this time. And vote the pig out of office, if you can.



 24th Street/E. Indian School Road
Phoenix (August 8, 2012)

-----AZ Republic--------


 Feds shut down criminal investigation of Arpaio; no charges to be filed  

Aug. 31, 2012 07:29 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
 

The U.S. Attorney's Office has closed its long-running abuse-of-power investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- without any charges to be filed.

document The press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office Friday

document Department of Justice letter with additional details
• An in-depth look at the self-dubbed 'America's toughest sheriff'
• Maricopa County feuds cost taxpayers $28 million


In a 5 p.m. Friday news release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the United States Department of Justice, announced her office "is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Federal prosecutors have advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of the decision.
In a four-page letter to Montgomery, Scheel explained the reasoning for the decision.

Federal prosecutors decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters. The U.S. Attorney's Office had already made public it would not pursue charges on those matters.

Scheel wrote that the agency declined to initiate any state criminal charges arising from its broader appointment to pursue state charges that may have come up in connection with the federal investigation.
Several federal attorneys had been deputized to handle state crimes arising from the investigation.

"Law enforcement officials are rightfully afforded a wide swath of discretion in deciding how to conduct investigations and prosecutions," she wrote. "Unfortunately, such discretion can act as a double-edged sword: although it empowers fair-minded prosecutors and investigators to discharge their duties effectively, it also affords potential for abuse. Our limited role is to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes."

Scheel wrote that federal prosecutors reached the same conclusion on potential federal criminal violations, specifically related to the allegations involving retired Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe. Attorneys considered whether former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon committed perjury in causing a complaint to be filed to avoid a court hearing, and whether their pursuit of criminal charges amounted to a violation of federal criminal civil rights laws.

Scheel wrote that the agency was mindful that a disciplinary panel had concluded Thomas, Aubuchon, Hendershott and Arpaio conspired in a criminal manner to violate Donahoe's civil rights.

"However, our obligation is different from the State Bar disciplinary panel, under its rules and burdens of proof, has reached certain conclusions about the conduct of Thomas and Aubuchon," she wrote. "We must weigh the evidence and law under the far heavier burden associated with criminal prosecution. Based on this review, we have concluded that allegations of criminal misconduct under federal statutes are not prosecutable."

She wrote it was "not enough to show that Judge Donahoe was subjected to conduct that was abusive or even unconstitutional. While Judge Donahoe suffered severe turmoil resulting from the criminal charges, as evidenced by the record in the Bar proceedings, we don't believe there is sufficient evidence to meet our burden that he suffered the sort of complete job depreciation contemplated by existing precedent."

"I'm just pissed," said Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek. "If (former Deputy County Attorney) Lisa Aubuchon and (former Sheriff's Chief Deputy) David Hendershott are not prosecuted for perjury, then this is all about politics. This is about a Justice Department that is afraid to do their jobs."

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, one of those who has sued Arpaio alleging she was improperly investigated, said she was shocked when contacted by The Republic.

"I can't imagine why they would do that when there's so much evidence there, particularly from the Thomas case and all the testimony that came out. I just am floored," Wilcox said.

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre commended federal prosecutors for their handling of the investigation that began in 2008.

MacIntyre also said the U.S. Attorney's Office recognized that many of the allegations related to the anti-corruption enforcement unit Arpaio started with former County Attorney Andrew Thomas were handled in the State Bar proceeding that resulted in Thomas being stripped of his license.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office and its investigators recognized what Sheriff's Office has said all along: we did not make any prosecutorial decisions, even through things were referred to the then-county attorney," MacIntyre said. "The sheriff and the Sheriff's Office commend the U.S. Attorney's office for having the honesty, the integrity and the strength of character to make the statement that they do today: clearing this office and dispelling the shadow that's been lingering over it for over three years."

Thomas, a onetime Arpaio ally, was disbarred earlier this year. During the disbarment proceedings, testimony was given that Arpaio or his subordinates had abused the power the office.

The investigation began in December 2008.

Bill Solomon, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said he could not comment any further on the agency's decision. He said the agency would not immediately release records pertaining to the closed investigations.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Art of Resistance: Justice Day Action at the Phoenix Art Museum!

On August 10, 2012 a small handful of us in Arizona celebrated Prisoners' Justice Day, which is a day to remember those who have died in state custody.  Some of us in the "free world" descended upon the Phoenix Art Museum for a sunrise action, seizing the public space in front of their sign on Central and Coronado for our canvas. There, about 25 members of the community chalked a 100-foot wide community memorial to nearly 70 victims of prison violence, neglect or despair, recommitting in the process to our fight for the living as well.

Security at the Art Museum seemed slow to respond for their part and they were mean when they did - we'd covered at least 80 feet by the time the chief came out to find out what was going on (he's lucky I can't find his card now and name him...). Turns out he called the Phoenix Police to see if they could send someone out to stop me, but Sgt Schweikert told him it wouldn't do any good. So, unable to have me arrested for soiling "their" clean sidewalk with my free speech, the custodians of our community's art and culture had a city crew hover on stand-by to wash away the names of the dead - including those put down by their mothers - the moment we left the sidewalk. 

Literally.

I found that to be downright disrespectful of everything from the first amendment to the grief of the families who were with us that day, not to mention petty and intolerant. If we were there about sick children and cancer instead of dying prisoners and AIDS or Hep C, would they have been less cruel? We decided that they wouldn't render us invisible again that easily, and Facebook was flooded with photos of the morning's action, mostly of the names of the dead.

In addition to the mothers of Carlo Krakoff, Joseph Venegas, and Dana Seawright, and loved ones of current prisoners, we were joined by former prisoners, anarchists from my neighborhood, Occupiers I was arrested with, artists from the Firehouse Gallery, immigrant rights activists, and Haley from the Phoenix Harm Reduction Organization (PHRO - check them out!). A cross section of the community I live and work in - small wonder that the Phoenix Art Museum thought it was too good for us.

Below is a little something I made from the photos of the action, many of which were taken by my comrade from 4th Ave jail, Janet Higgins, who made a special effort to document the individual names. Please print it up and send it inside, if you correspond with any prisoners. Let them know they have not been forgotten...


















Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hulstedt v Scottsdale: Cops lied; Scottsdale/MCAO still prosecuting innocence

On N0vember 7, 2008 Scottsdale cops shot, brutally dragged, and permanently paralyzed a seriously mentally ill man who called them to ask for the Attorney General to come to his home. They had a come SWAT team help him out instead of allowing his family to talk him down from an agitated, distressed state, and he was holding his baby girl in his arms who was consequently injured when he was shot. 

Sound familiar?

Another Scottsdale cop, James Peters, just retired with full disability pension after shooting and killing John Loxas while he held his grandchild in his arms...sure am glad I don't live in Scottsdale these days.

Here's the original post on David's shooting: 


A year later a grand jury returned an indictment of David, alleging he had kidnapped and abused his child himself the day the cops shot him. Unfortunately, it appears as if David is still being prosecuted for the alleged crimes that "justified" his shooting. That despite his serious mental illness (he was very delusional when the cops attacked him in his yard), and the findings yesterday by federal judge G. Murray Snow that the cops lied repeatedly in order to justify their shooting, which was all screwed up to begin with (thank god for the video of the whole thing). 

Why is David still being prosecuted? From the file I just read, the cops who shot him are the ones who should be facing prosecution.



David's guardian sued on his behalf, and yesterday was a hearing on several motions re: Hulstedt v Scottsdale. News on that front is mostly good; below are some excerpts from the court record. Read the whole thing if you can - it's fascinating and the arguments apply to not only police brutality/ excessive force cases, but also searches.

First, these are the civil claims for damages that were filed on David's behalf:

"Plaintiffs’ complaint contains nine claims for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seven supplemental claims under Arizona state law.3 (Doc. 28).

In Claim One, Plaintiffs allege that Officer Dorer and Officer Slavin violated David Hulstedt’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him when they shot him.

In Claim Two, they allege that Officer Fellows and Officer Garcia violated David Hulstedt’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force when they handcuffed him and dragged him across the asphalt, that Sgt. Dorer is liable for ordering that David be handcuffed, and that Sgt. Slavin is liable for ordering the officers to drag David to the ambulance.

Counts Three through Six, along with certain allegations in Count Seven, have already been dismissed on the pleadings by the original judge in this matter. (Doc.182).4

In the remaining portions of Claim Seven, Plaintiffs allege that officers searched the Hulstedt home in violation of the Fourth Amendment after the shooting, and that Det. Lockerby procured a search warrant for the home through judicial deception.

In Claim Eight, Plaintiffs allege that Lt. O’Halloran, Sergeant Scott Smith, Sergeant Dorer, and Sergeant Slavin bear supervisory responsibility under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for directing their subordinates to act in ways that deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights.

Claim Nine(a) argues that the City is liable based on two theories of municipal liability: a failure to train officers and a ratification of the officers’ decisions by the Chief of Police.


The remaining claims arise under Arizona state tort law.
Claim Nine(b) is for Battery against Sgt. Slavin, Sgt. Dorer, Officer Fellows, Officer Garcia, and the City.
Claim Ten is for Negligence by Sgt. Dorer, Sgt. Slavin, Det. Lockerby, and the City.
Claim Eleven is for Negligence against Operator Trott and the City of Scottsdale.
Claim Twelve is for Defamation against Officer Greene, Det. Lockerby, Officer Scritchfield, and the City.
Claim Thirteen is for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (“IIED”) against Sgt. Slavin, Officer Scritchfield, Officer Clark, Officer Greene, Det. Lockerby, Officer Fellows, Officer Garcia and others.
Claim Fourteen is for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress against Sgt. Slavin and Sgt. Dorer, and
Claim Fifteen is for Loss of Consortium against Sgt. Slavin and Sgt. Dorer.

Defendants move for summary judgment on every claim. (Doc. 271). Plaintiffs move for summary judgment on Claim One, Claim Two, the remaining portion of Claim Seven, Claim Nine(a), Claim Nine(b), and Claim Ten. (Doc. 265)."
Now, some remarks and observations made by the judge in reflecting on these claims (DH refers to David's 3 year old daughter): 
"One cannot pay “careful attention to the facts and circumstances of [this] particular case” and still conclude that the officers were free to fire at David and D.H. as soon the negotiators had coaxed him out of his front door. Graham, 490 U.S. at 396; (Doc. 313-2, Ex. L-1 at 6)...."

"Once the family members’ cell phones had been confiscated, Officer Antrim continued to speak to David over the telephone, stating that “we’re working on getting your brother but you do know as well as I do that this is not a real common practice to send someone into a home like that.” (Doc. 313-2, Ex. L-2 at 5). After fifteen minutes of negotiation, David apparently once again expressed concern that the police were there to shoot him. Officer Antrim continued to negotiate, and learned more about David’s anxiety and his medication. (Doc. 313-2, Ex. L-2 at 8).

Five minutes later, David told the negotiation team that he was ready to leave the house. (Doc. 313-2, Ex. L-2 at 14). When Sgt. Slavin, who was still putting on his SWAT team gear, heard over the radio that the subject was going to leave the house, he “started running down towards the command post.” (Doc. 269, Ex. PP at 144). When Sgt. Slavin reached the command post, he told the officers there that he wanted to go to the scene, obtained directions from them, and continued running towards the house. (Id.). Sgt. Slavin
had heard the previous radio transmissions, but was not aware of any operational plan, did not know how many officers were on the scene, and did not know if any officers had firearms at the ready or deployed. (Doc. 266-3, Ex. L-3 at 169–70). He made the decision to go to the scene on his own, passing through residential yards containing vegetation and cacti to reachthe house. (Id.)
..."

"Neither Sgt. Slavin nor Sgt. Dorer warned David that they would shoot him if he did not comply with their commands, and both of them shot him in the back as he was walking away from them and towards the house. (Doc. 313-1, Ex. B at 57, Pospisil video). Sgt. Dorer, when asked if he ever perceived at any particular moment that David was going to “piledrive” D.H., responded, “I did not.” (Doc. 267, Ex. S at 44). Instead, he shot David “to prevent him from going back into the house.” (Id. at 43). When David was shot, he released D.H. as he collapsed and she fell forward onto the concrete walkway from a height of approximately six feet. (Pospisil video).

After David fell, officers converged on D.H. and David. (Pospisil video). Sgt. Dorer and Sgt. Slavin approached David on the ground; Sgt. Dorer ordered him handcuffed and Sgt. Slavin “ordered him to be dragged away from the scene.” (Doc. 269, Ex. PP at 145). Officer Deven Fellows and Officer Marcos Garcia handcuffed David and dragged him approximately 400 feet to where the medics were stationed. (Doc. 266-2, Ex. E at 136). The officers held David under his arms with his face pointed downward, so that his bare knees were in contact with the asphalt and gravel. The dragging resulted in “gaping wounds in David’s knees” that required extensive medical attention."

"The Ninth Circuit has written that summary judgment is rare in cases of police misconduct, because “police misconduct cases almost always turn on a jury’s credibility determinations.” Santos v. Gates, 287 F.3d 846, 853 (9th Cir. 2002) (emphasis added). This case is an exception to that general caution. Almost everything the officers heard was recorded and transcribed, and the shooting itself was recorded on video. The officers fired at an unarmed man who was walking away from them. Although he had issued threats against D.H. earlier, nothing he did after walking outside would suggest to a reasonable officer that he was placing D.H. in imminent danger of suffering any more harm than falling to the ground. By shooting David, the officers caused the very harm that a reasonable officer could believe that David posed to D.H. Considering “the totality of the facts and circumstances in the particular case,” no reasonable officer could have believed that shooting David without warning, while he calmly walked back towards his house with D.H. over his head, was a proper means of protecting D.H.’s safety. Blanford, 406 F.3d at1115...."

And the judge's order: 

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

1. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 265) is granted in part and denied in part.
2. Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 271) is granted in part and denied in part.
3. The remaining claims are as follows:

A. On Claim One, summary judgment is entered for Plaintiffs.

B. On Claim Two, summary judgment is entered for Defendants on thehandcuffing claim and denied to both parties on the dragging claim.

C. On Claim Seven, summary judgment is entered for Plaintiffs on the warrantless search allegations. (Doc. 28 ¶¶ 290–296). Summary judgment is entered for Defendants on the judicial deception claim. (Doc. 28 ¶¶ 297–301).

D. On Claim Eight, summary judgment is entered for Defendant on the claims against Sgt. Slavin, and Lt. O’Halloran, and for Sgt. Dorer regarding the handcuffing. Summary judgment is entered for Plaintiffs against Sgt. Dorer regarding the warrantless search. Summary judgment is denied to both parties with regards to the dragging claims. Summary judgement is denied to both parties with regards to Sgt. Slavin.

E. Claim Nine(a) survives only with regards to the ratification claim (Doc. 28 ¶308) and is otherwise dismissed.

F. On Claim Nine(b), summary judgment is entered for Plaintiffs against Dorer and Slavin regarding the shooting. Summary judgment is denied to both parties regarding Officer Fellows’ and Garcia’s dragging David to the ambulance.

G. Claim Ten is dismissed.

H. Claim Eleven survives.

I. Claim Twelve survives

J. Claim Thirteen survives only with regards to Officer Greene and Sgt. Slavin, and is otherwise dismissed.

K. Claim Fourteen is dismissed.

L. Claim Fifteen survives.

4. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 333) and Motion for Certification of Issue for Interlocutory Appeal (Doc. 333-34) are both denied.

DATED this 6th day of August, 2012.


-------------


If David's family is out there reading this now, please get in touch with me - I want to connect you with folks who have been advocating for the mentally ill in the criminal justice system for awhile. They want to offer your family support. My name is Peggy Plews; my number is 480-580-6807; my email is arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com