“The Phoenix Police Department and the City of Phoenix engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law,” according to a scathing report by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). This pattern of misconduct includes using unjustified deadly force and racial discrimination when enforcing the law.

Report Findings

The DOJ opened an investigation into allegations of police misconduct in the Phoenix Police Department on Aug. 5, 2021, reviewing incidents dating back to 2016 until the time of the published report. In its 126-page report, the DOJ found the Phoenix Police Department:

  • Uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force
  • Fired their guns at people who did not pose an immediate threat
  • Put themselves in situations of “tactical disadvantage” that substantially increased the likelihood they would fire their weapons
  • Improperly use Tasers, projectiles, leg restraints, police dogs, neck restraints, compression restraints, and deadly force
  • Routinely delays medical aid and employs excessive force on wounded people
  • Violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech and expression, including during times of demonstration and protest
  • Discriminates against Black, Hispanic, and Native American people when enforcing the law
  • Unlawfully detains, cites, and arrests people experiencing homelessness and unlawfully disposes of their belongings (37 percent of Phoenix police arrests were homeless people between 2016 and 2022.)
  • Discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when dispatching calls or assistance and responding to people in crisis
  • Tells officers to be “proactive” with projectiles and takes the weapons away from officers who do not use them enough

The DOJ’s findings “reveal evidence showing long-standing dysfunction” that “reflect a lack of effective supervision, training, and accountability,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said, according to the BBC.

Specific Acts of Misconduct

Some of the specific acts alleged by the DOJ include:

  • Officers shot a man four times and killed him after the man threw rocks at their police vehicle.
  • Officers opened fire on a woman who appeared suicidal, shooting her ten times. They waited more than nine minutes to attend to her after she was immobile on the ground. She later died.
  • Officers shot a man, fired multiple rounds with a projectile launcher, and sent a police dog to drag him. They did not render aid for more than nine minutes.
  • Officers shot an armed man and continued to shoot him with stunbag rounds even though he did not attempt to get up or retrieve his weapon. The man’s heart had stopped when the officers finally tried to approach him fifteen minutes later to render aid.
  • Officers pulled a suicidal man from his car, pushed him to the pavement, knelt on his neck, held him down, and fired a Taser at the man.

Contact a Civil Rights Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of excessive force by police, contact an experienced civil rights lawyer. The Zeiger Firm offers a free consultation so you can learn about your legal rights and options.

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.