The city administration has withdrawn a request for Phoenix City Council to hire a nonprofit to investigate police response to the protest during President Trump's recent visit.
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio caused a Twitter storm Aug 28 – the day before the election – with a tirade against the city’s plan to hire an outside firm for an independent review of the controversial police response to protesters at last week’s presidential rally in downtown Phoenix.
Saying Phoenix Police did nothing to warrant a review that will cost more than $50,000, DiCiccio called the firm “political witch hunters.”
City Manager Ed Zuercher initially wrote in a statement to Police Chief Jeri Williams:
“With the high profile nature of the events and community concerns and support expressed, it is important to use outside expertise to add a layer of objective review in this situation.”
Zuercher said OIR Group, Inc. “specializes in independent reviews of critical incidents and police tactics in a variety of police community interactions.”
But Zuercher withdrew the request the day after DiCiccio's reelection after it appeared DiCiccio had the votes to reject it.
Williams had said the police would conduct an internal review about the response after the rally, which ended in law enforcement using tear gas and other crowd-disbursement tactics on Trump protesters.
Some people took to social media to claim police brutality.
Zuercher said the outside review would supplement the police internal review.
“Let me be clear, this (external) review does not diminish the professionalism of our Phoenix police officers,” he said. “In fact, it will serve to strengthen the Phoenix Police Department and to transparently educate the community about the complexities of policing in a large city.”
Phoenix police had initially said only pepper balls had been fired into the crowd of protesters.
The confrontation came after President Donald Trump talked for more than an hour to supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center. Supporters had lined up for hours before the evening rally and, at times, clashed verbally but peacefully with protesters.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a statement Monday an independent review “is the most objective and transparent way we can move forward.” He praised Phoenix police “as one of the finest police departments in the country.”
“I am grateful, given the tensions and emotions surrounding the Trump rally,” Stanton said. “There were no serious injuries and only a handful of arrests. I’m disappointed that a few people chose to disrupt an otherwise peaceful event. There is no circumstance where that kind of behavior is appropriate.”
Williams and Stanton are scheduled to meet with leaders of several rally protest groups on Sept. 5 to “hear their perspectives and concerns” directly, Stanton said.
DiCiccio said police “did an amazing job in extremely adverse conditions.”
He said “a handful of hooligans, thugs and lawbreakers” had “created the police response.”
Dozens of people commented on DiCiccio’s statement, with most praising him and condemning city officials and specifically Mayor Greg Stanton for hiring the firm.
During a City Council hearing, several people accused police of excessive force during the protest.
- Cronkite News contributed to this report.