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MCAO calls for outside review of gang charges filed against protesters at a Phoenix rally

Officer Shoots Teen Arizona
Posted at 9:53 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 23:53:33-05

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has called for an outside review after ABC15 exposed gang charges filed against protesters at a Phoenix rally on October 17, 2020.

According to Adel's office, she has asked retired Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle "to provide an outside review of events surrounding the charging of individuals as members of a criminal street gang who were arrested on Oct. 17, 2020."

Adel dropped the charges one week after ABC15’s “Politically Charged” investigation exposed the gang counts were based on dubious claims and lies.

This incident wasn’t MCAO’s only attempt to label protesters as gang members. ABC15 discovered four defendants in a separate case were also accused in court of being gang members by prosecutors.

MCAO didn’t provide any information to defense attorneys to justify the allegations and withdrew them following ABC15’s reports.

ABC15 reached out recently to Adel's office to request an interview about the gang charges. Since that request, Adel chose to interview with two other local media outlets, which had done minimal reporting on the story until that time.

On Monday, hours before MCAO announced the outside review, ABC15 sent a spokesperson a detailed list of questions with specific days and events of when Adel and her leadership team were alleged to have discussed the gang charges ahead of the indictment.

Now that Adel's office has called for the outside review, they claim it would be "inappropriate" to interview with ABC15 on the topic.

Here's Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel's full statement on the call for a review:

“As County Attorney, I am committed to ensuring that this office adheres to the highest standards. Procedures are in place to help ensure these standards are reflected in the more than 30,000 cases we file each year. I understand that each case impacts a community of individuals, including the defendant, victims, family members, employers, and others.

In this particular matter, I believe that we could have done better to meet these standards, and therefore I have engaged the assistance of Retired Judge Roland Steinle to review the procedures we currently have in place when making charging decisions in cases of community interest or those that have possible impacts to policy. I have also asked that he provide recommendations to improve our process and to review whether there were any possible ethical violations related to the prosecution of these cases.”