(PHOENIX, ARIZONA) — Legendary trial and civil rights attorney William “Billy” Murphy Jr. of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, Martell Harris of the Trial Law Firm, and Steve Benedetta of The People’s Law Firm of Phoenix announced today the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of community organizations and activists including Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro and social justice activist Maxima Guerrero.
“For years, Phoenix PD has engaged in mass human rights violations to silence, intimidate, and attempt to disappear those demanding change. With this lawsuit, that stops now,” said Steve Benedetta, The Peoples Law Firm.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona alleges that Phoenix PD unconstitutionally arrested and used excessive force against innocent citizens for decades, identifying several instances, including a recent incident where Phoenix PD shot pepper spray or rubber bullets into crowds of peaceful protestors. The lawsuit alleges that on May 30, 2020, consistent with its pattern and practice, Phoenix PD officers arrested activist Maxima Guerrero and hundreds of individuals in downtown Phoenix and falsely charged them with committing a felony, using manufactured evidence.
“In my many years of experience handling civils right protest cases, this abuse against demonstrators ranks as some of the worst. We will seek justice on their behalf, BLACK LIVES MATTER,” said William “Billy” Murphy Jr.
Two days before the day in question, Phoenix PD, unprovoked and without cause, declared the peaceful assembly of protestors to be unlawful and began shooting the protestors with pepper balls, pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber-coated bullets. All but eight protestors disbursed, but the protestors returned the following day for a second peaceful protest. Once again, unprovoked and without cause, Phoenix PD declared the assembly unlawful and shot pepper balls and tear gas to disburse the crowds. The following day, protestors returned again. But this time, Phoenix PD did not let the crowds disburse. They began to chase the protestors down, rounding up and arresting 124 people for committing the crime of being in downtown Phoenix while exercising their First Amendment rights. The arrestees were held for hours in poorly ventilated or unventilated transport vehicles (during a worldwide pandemic) without access to water or restrooms, and they also spent time in jail. All 124 individuals were charged with felony rioting with cut-and-paste statements of probable cause. Ultimately, these statements of probable cause were all thrown out by the judges in front of whom the 124 individuals initially appeared.
“This department demonstrated that it has no boundaries when it comes to abusive tactics and excessive use of force. This lawsuit is a first step to remedying all the trauma that has been caused by the department. But it doesn’t end there. We are going to continue to use our people power to challenge what safety really means — because Phoenix PD doesn’t keep us safe,” said Maxima Guerero.
About Murphy, Falcon & Murphy
Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is a Baltimore-based law firm specializing in complex civil, criminal, and civil rights litigation. Our powerhouse legal team has a history of unrelenting dedication to its clients in Baltimore and across the country. Our team of seasoned trial lawyers has extensive experience in a wide variety of cases with success rates that dwarf national averages and is dedicated to providing smart strategies and creative approaches to complex litigation. Our team is driven and strategy-focused —characteristics that have helped us secure more than $900 million in verdicts and settlements, including over $75 Million in police cases throughout the country. Our attorneys have won some of the largest verdicts in high-profile, high-stakes cases in some of the toughest jurisdictions around the country. The firm represented Freddie Gray, Jr. and William H. Green, achieving historic settlements of $6.4 million and $20 million, respectively, for federal and state civil rights violations that led to their deaths.
*Each case is different. Past success does not guarantee a favorable result in any future case.