PHOENIX (CN) — The ACLU sued the Phoenix Police Department Tuesday for records of an Aug. 22 protest of against President Donald Trump that descended into when police used force and fired pepper-spray to disperse the crowd of several hundred people.
The American Civil Liberties Union in August and October requested videos, photos, internal communications, training materials and weapon inventories to shed light on the protests and the police response.
“The Police Department’s story about how and why they used excessive force against the protesters has changed over and over again,” ACLU attorney Darrell Hill said in a statement. “Under the law, the public needs to be able to promptly see the Police Department’s own records so that we can judge for ourselves whether officers acted appropriately.”
The ACLU said the protest outside Trump’s downtown speech was peaceful, and it wants to know why the police “sent many Arizonans home with cuts, bruises, and other injuries.”
The police department said it is trying to comply with the records request.
“It has always been our intention to release the review and associated records as quickly as possible,” police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said in an email. “We anticipate the review will be completed within the coming weeks. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide specific comments on pending lawsuits.”
The ACLU says that without warning at about 8:30 p.m., police “aggressively and indiscriminately” used chemical agents and other violent tactics to end the protest, including firing rubber bullets and pepper spray into a crowd that included children.
“The ACLU of Arizona received many, many complaints from people who witnessed and suffered from the Phoenix Police Department’s extreme tactics against peaceful protesters. The department failed to protect the First Amendment rights of demonstrators that night. Now, the public deserves to see the critical records documenting the Phoenix Police Department’s actions,” the ACLU said in a statement.
It says the police responded to one request by saying, “The Department hopes to complete the report by the end of the year.”