Tucson (AZ), Aug 5 (EFE News). – For years, activists and members of the Latino community have denounced cases of abuse of power, racial profiling and the use of lethal force by the Phoenix Police Department (Arizona), for which they applauded today Thursday the announcement of an investigation of the Department of Justice of the United States against this police agency.
“The announcement of this investigation validates all the complaints that have been made for years, and confirms the violence and abuses that our community has suffered at their hands,” Carlos García, vice mayor of the city of Phoenix, told Efe.
According to the announcement made by US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the investigation will evaluate all types of use of force, including deadly force, by Phoenix police officers.
Allegations of retaliation against individuals for conduct protected under the First Amendment, discriminatory practices, and illegal confiscation of homeless property will also be reviewed.
“After Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapio left his post, the Phoenix Police Department is the agency that has done the most damage to the immigrant and Latino community,” Garcia said.
The organizations Puente and Poder en Acción filed a lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Department after in 2018 they were violently repressed by agents during a protest after a presentation of the now former President Donald Trump. The policemen sprayed tear gas and fired rubber bullets at the protesters.
Another example is the case of Latino Ramón Timothy López, who died in August 2020 after police officers held him for at least six minutes on the red-hot asphalt on a day when the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), which apparently caused him burns before he died.
The man, who was immobilized hand and foot by the officers, was placed in the back of a patrol car, where he lost consciousness.
García believes that it is necessary for the Department of Justice to also focus on investigating the response of the agents in cases in which the suspects could present symptoms of a mental illness, as was the case with López.