To the Phoenix Police Department,
I am a reporter with Raise the Voices, an advocacy journalism organization. We have been looking into the case of Michael Angel Ruiz, a 44 year old man who died following an encounter with the Phoenix police in 2013, and have been deeply aggrieved by what we found.
There were several fundamental issues with the handling of Mr. Ruiz’s situation. Mr. Ruiz was found on a rooftop in Arizona, clearly unarmed. This is a situation, that, logically, would require a mild police response with little force. However, the response by the officers was exactly the opposite. Rather than using only the force necessary to calm Mr. Ruiz down and get him safely back on the ground, the officers chose cruelty over compassion, force over protection, and violence over reason. Witnesses and video evidence show Mr. Ruiz being tased multiple times and being held in a chokehold by one of the officers following his descent from the rooftop.Then we see Ruiz lose consciousness, and, in a despicable action showing clear disregard for his life, the officers drag him down the stairs, letting his head suffer trauma repeatedly on the staircase. The story doesn’t end there. Mr. Ruiz died following the incident due to the injuries he sustained, meaning that these officers were complicit in ending one of the lives that they swore to protect.
This kind of treatment for an unarmed, non-violent man is unreasonably harsh and downright cruel. Yet, despite news coverage of the case and publicly released video of the brutal incident, there has been no public comment by your department and no apparent actions taken to bring the officers involved in this case to justice. There was talk of an ongoing investigation at the time, but no further information was released on that end.
In today’s climate, where police violence has become increasingly prevalent, we need to not only be focusing on combating new instances of police violence, but also owning up to past wrongs. With this in mind, I have three questions for you.
Does your department commit to conducting a full investigation into the actions of these officers?
Do you commit to bringing these officers to due justice?
Do you commit to taking actions to reform your department’s method of policing?
Reporter, Raise the Voices