Phoenix — Phoenix City Managers, from Phoenix’s Supreme Police Officer, Citizens and City Council on their role in a large scandal involving protesters who were falsely charged by Secretary Jeri Williams and Deputy Secretary Mike Kurtenbach. Was warned that it was misleading.
Commander John Collins told then mayor Ed Zuelcher that Williams and Kurtenbach were pleased with the decision to prosecute opponents as members of the gang in October 2020.
“It wasn’t a secret on the fourth floor,” Collins said, referring to the top floor of Phoenix Police Headquarters. “That is, Jeri Williams, this was all good for her until the end.”
Collins continued. “There was no problem. I was just cruising.”
ABC15 obtained a copy of the recording from the Collins-Zuelcher meeting on September 29, 2021. Other top city officials attended, including deputy city lawyers and senior officials.
The meeting was held a month after the city announced the results of an external investigation conducted by the law firm Ballard Spahr. This probe was launched as a direct result of ABC15’s “Politically Charged” study, which was launched in February 2021.
The law firm said it found no evidence that Secretary Williams had been informed of plans to prosecute the protesters as members of the gang prior to the indictment.
Collins was one of the three assistant chiefs who were ultimately blamed for the scandal. After that, he was demoted to commander.
In a previous presentation to the city council, Williams said the three assistant chiefs did not notify her of the incident. “It was a bad idea for flatouts. The system was circumvented, personnel issues were circumvented, and communication was lost,” she said.
But recently ABC15 I got multiple recordings It captures the department’s deputy commander, Kurtenbach, and other deputy chiefs, who said Williams had been repeatedly briefed on the post-indictment protest gang robbery.
“The boss himself knew about this for months. We didn’t hide it,” Kurtenbach said in a recorded conversation on August 13, 2021.
The three demoted assistant chiefs (Collins, Gabriel Lopez, and Larry Hein) have filed proceedings alleging that they were unfairly accused and demoted after the scandal.
“Every time the issue of prosecution of a suspect who assisted a criminal street gang was raised at a briefing on Monday, neither Williams nor Kurtenbach questioned the validity of the prosecution or briefed on the intention of MCAO’s prosecution. I didn’t argue. According to the lawsuit, suspected gang-related crimes. “
The protesters were arrested on October 17, 2020.
During the meeting on October 23, 2020, Phoenix police officers, county prosecutors, and the FBI met to discuss the case and plan to prosecute protesters as criminal street gangs.
Collins, Hein, Lopez attend the meeting,
To a law firm investigator, Kurtenbach told him “I couldn’t remember” when the three assistant chiefs informed him of the plan.
However, during a meeting with Zuercher and other city leaders in September 2021, Collins provided a handwritten note he said was taken on the day of the planning meeting. According to the meeting records, city leaders made copies.
A copy of the memo taken by ABC15 has the notation “Briefed XO-K” in the margin.
Collins told Zuercher that “XO-K” stands for Executive Officer Kurtenbach.
“We left the meeting at the Violent Crimes Bureau on the second floor … I walked directly to Kurtenbach’s office. He’s at his desk. I entered,” Collins said. .. “This is a one-on-one report, a complete face-to-face report of everything that happened on the second floor of the VCB meeting room. I’ll bring it to the grave.”
In July 2021, Zuercher announced that he would retire in October. His last official day landed about a week after the meeting with Collins.
ABC15 asked Jeff Burton, the current Phoenix City Manager, for comment. A spokeswoman declined to comment because of an ongoing proceeding.
The request for comment sent to Mayor Kate Gallego’s office was not returned.
Please contact Dave Biscobing, Principal Researcher at ABC15. [email protected]..