TPD releases report about response to protests in downtown Tucson

TPD releases report about response to protests in downtown Tucson
Day without immigrants rally in downtown Tucson quickly escalates into chaos.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Police Department released a report about how it handled a 2017 protest in downtown Tucson, which turned violent when protesters and police officers clashed in the street.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the TPD hosted a news conference to discuss the findings from the Critical Incident Review Board.

The CIRB's report said the officers' use of force that day was justified but it did fall outside of TPD's policy. Chief Magnus said two of the officers involved are facing disciplinary action and that could come in the next two weeks.

The full CIRB report can be read HERE or at the bottom of this story.

The "A Day Without Immigrants" event in February 2017 started off peacefully and organizers said about 100 people took part.

However some of the protesters began blocking the road and TPD officers tried to get them back on the sidewalks.

In video from the scene, officers are heard asking the protesters to get off the road multiple times.

The TPD said an officer was hit in the back by someone in the crowd and when officers tried to arrest that person, the crowd moved in and an officer used pepper spray to disperse them. Fritzi Redgrave, 86, and an unidentified man were pushed down by the officer as he tried to regain control of the crowd.

Video of the incident went viral and made it on websites across the world, including the Daily Mail and Washington Post.

The protesters said they were trying to follow the officer's commands but said things turned violent within seconds.

The 24-year-old Leon, 68-year-old Cichon, and Alvarez-Blancarte, 42, were facing felony charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer. The 39-year-old Rainey was facing a misdemeanor charge of obstructing and failure to identify.

Three officers received minor injuries during the protest, according to the TPD.

According to the CIRB report, multiple issues caused the showdown between police and protesters.

The report said the protesters who decided to block the street "served as a significant contributing factor for the encounter."

When officers tried to get the protesters back onto the sidewalk, the TPD said its officers were attacked.

"Some protesters viewed actions taken by the police as unwarranted or unnecessary," the TPD said in a news release. "Based on this perception, several protesters engaged in unlawful conduct that included assaulting officers and resisting arrest."

The TPD said since the incident, it has changed several parts of its force training.

"These revisions appropriately reflect community expectations regarding effective communication and de-escalation skills," the TPD said in a release.

CIRB said the department also lacked a clear policy or established practices for when protesters take over a roadway.

The TPD said it led to implementation of a new "First Amendment Activity" Order that provides the agency and community with a framework of expectations and factors for consideration when officers allow or disallow groups of protesters to be in the street.

The incident also led to the creation of the TPD's Community Network Team, a group of select and specially trained officers who handle large events and protests.

Communication and supervision by the TPD were also a problem during the 2017 incident and contributed to the outcome, according to the CIRB.

"Command and supervisory expectations specific to protest activities and police response were primarily communicated through verbal direction, resulting in confusion throughout the chain of command," the TPD said. "The CIRB found supervision inadequate, lacking in proper prioritization of tasks and absent the necessary designation of incident command."

Magnus said communication during protests has been formalized and a supervisor must now be present, and an incident commander identified, for all downtown protests.

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