Officials disregard public record requests on brawl allegedly involving police
The Daily Courier's efforts to obtain public records about a Dec. 22 Whiskey Row incident allegedly involving off-duty police officers continue to be met with resistance by the investigating agencies.
At 11 p.m. on Dec. 22, Prescott police officers spoke with an alleged assault victim at Yavapai Regional Medical Center's west campus. The 23-year-old Glendale man told officers he was in a downtown bar and that he was punched several times by members of what he thought was a motorcycle club. He was treated for a facial injury and then released from the hospital, according to a news release from the Prescott Police Department.
The Daily Courier's repeated attempts to reach the victim by telephone have been unsuccessful.
The bar owner said he did not want to comment about the incident.
Prescott Police Department officers investigating the incident found that the motorcycle club members were the Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club, made up of current and former police officers from agencies around the state, including Prescott, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and Department of Public Safety.
Prescott Police Chief Mike Kabbel, who has since retired, requested that the Arizona Department of Public Safety Special Investigations Unit take over the case to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. On Jan. 2, the Courier learned that the Yavapai County Attorney's Office forwarded the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, citing a conflict of interest.
On Jan. 7, Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb said he was notified the case was conflicted out of Yavapai County to his office, but to date his office has not received a copy of the police report on the bar fight or any other information.
Despite repeated public records requests by The Daily Courier to the Prescott Police Department, DPS, Yavapai County Attorney's Office and Maricopa County Attorney's Office to obtain the initial police report, supplementary reports and surveillance video, nothing has been released regarding the incident that happened 23 days ago.
Prescott Police interim chief Andy Reinhardt said Thursday he would not be releasing the report. "We don't usually release reports when the incident is still under investigation," he said.
But Dan Barr, an attorney with the First Amendment Coalition, said, "There's no exception under Arizona law for preventing access to a police report for an ongoing investigation."
A Phoenix television news station named Reinhardt as one of the officers at the scene, but after the report aired, Graves asserted that "Chief Reinhardt was not in the bar at the time of the incident."
Reinhardt was asked if he would step down from the Iron Brotherhood Motorcycle Club as Prescott Valley Police Chief Bill Fessler did.
"I have no comment on that," Reinhardt said. "I've been told to make no comment until the case is done."