The disciplinary court of the State Bar of Arizona concluded Tuesday against April Sponsel, a former longtime prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO). The action was related to gang charges she brought against Antifa and others arrested in October 2020 for rioting in downtown Phoenix.
Bar prosecutors claimed she overcharged the rioters by using gang statutes, including bringing charges against a man who claimed he was just an observer taking photos, Ryder Collins. The Arizona Bar seeks to suspend her license to practice law for two years.
A prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told The Arizona Sun Times that the Phoenix Police Department decided to crack down on individuals participating in the 2020 riots with gang charges instead of just a slap on the wrist. The attorney noted that law enforcement in Utah took the same approach, and nothing happened there.
Phoenix Police officers arrested 18 rioters on October 17, 2020, in downtown Phoenix.
Sponsel maintains that there was no evidence produced showing that Collins wasn’t part of the gang or that he wasn’t assisting them by taking photos. Collins admitted that he refused to cooperate with police. His photos were taken in the middle of the street after the police had told the rioters to move. The top brass in the office, including then-Maricopa County Attorney Alistair Adel, knew that Sponsel was charging the rioters with gang charges, which was discussed in a meeting. However, the Arizona Bar isn’t going after anyone else.
Read the rest of the article at The Arizona Sun Times
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