Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Prosecuting Innocence: The Scottsdale Police shooting of David Hulstedt

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Another victim of Scottsdale police violence has come to my attention this weekend, thanks to one of the local activists hot on the Scottsdale Police Department's tail, who posted the link to this guy's family's website to Facebook.

David has a psychiatric disability, according to court records, and was having a crisis at the time this all happened - they'll try to make that work against him, so don't let that keep you from supporting him. In fact, it makes it all the more imperative that the community embrace him and his family right now to assure that he's not further brutalized by the criminal justice system - at least, not without a world of witnesses. 

Let the following be a lesson to all who own a video camera - keep it out and use it whenever you see the police stop someone. You never know whose life you may save. If we're truly dedicated to fighting police brutality, the place to start would be to see him through the effort to criminally prosecute him after he filed suit against the bastards. 

If David or his family are out there and want some support from other folks who are fighting police and prison violence, let me know. My name is Peggy, my number is 480-580-6807

------this occurred in 2008. David's prosecution is on-going------ 

This is the story of David Hulstedt, the young man shot in the back as he walked away from officers Scottsdale, Arizona police officers on November 7, 2008. David, who was unarmed, and carrying his toddler, is now paralyzed. David's little daughter suffered a fractured skull when she fell to the ground. As widely reported in the media, Mr. Hulstedt was undergoing treatment for a mental health condition when he called 911 asking for help from the Arizona Governor. Instead of responding with calm and caring, a Scottsdale police dispatcher broadcast that there was a "crisis" at the residence, and that a little girl was crying in the background, and that his parents were trying to get the little girl away from David who was refusing to give back the baby.

That little girl was just David's daughter who was crying because she needed a new diaper.

The Inappropriate Police Response.

Within minutes, Scottsdale officers ordered David's parents out of the home. David repeatedly called his father, pleading for him to return to the house. His father asked to go back to the house but police would not let him. David also repeatedly called his brother, Eric. In the video to right, Eric explains that he asked police to let him go to his brother. Police refused. David’s father called his lawyer who tried to speak with David, until Police intervened and ordered him to stop.

As you'll hear and see through the video clips to the right, David's family urged the police to let them help David, but police refused. David said he would give his daughter to his brother. Time after time, the family made progress. But the police did everything the could to stop that progress, and even confiscated the cell phones being used by the family.  Police intentionally isolated David from the very support group that he needed. David was never armed. David never threatened police. David never threatened his family. Minutes after police took away David’s lifeline to his family, lawyer and minister, David in desperation allegedly told police: “If you don’t let my brother come inside, I’ll pile drive my daughter into the ground.” But David would not and did not do that. Over the next 20 minutes police negotiators told David that they were there to help him. They were not going to hurt him. They proclaimed themselves “professionals.” They guaranteed David that they would not hurt him. All he had to do was come out with his daughter.

He did.

The Shooting.

David walked outside the house and asked officers to back up. He wanted to go to his Dad. He wanted to go to the street to see his family, not knowing the family had been held in seclusion by Scottsdale Police. Four officers, staged immediately outside the front door, took a couple of steps back to give David some space.

Arizona police officers are trained to safely resolve problems with people in mental crisis by assigning one person to  calmly speak with the patient. Instead of following training, police yelled at David. He was given opposing commands to put up his hands, put down the baby. He was not told he was under arrest. Confused by the contradictory orders, David raised his daughter up over his head and began to walk to the street. He wanted to be with his family. David and the police negotiators wanted a peaceful resolution. As he walked to the street an officer armed with a military assault rifle yelled at him. From across the street another officer armed with an assault rifle joined in the chorus of shouts. David turned to go back to the safety of the home.

The two officers fired their military assault rifles striking David down after he took 3 to 4 steps back towards the home. He was immediately paralyzed and fell forward. David lost his grip on his daughter and she flew down hitting her head on the concrete front walkway. Police, unbelievably, then DRAGGED David's paralyzed body hundreds of yards over rocks and gravel, ripping through his skin, exposing bone.
Police Claims.

Police  claimed that the baby was bleeding from her ear when David first walked out of the house. Police claimed they saw blood on the front of David’s shirt. Police claimed that the left side of David’s daughter’s face was deformed and there was blood mixed with mucous coming from her nose. Police claimed that the little girl slid down the front of David and fell from his knee. She fell, police claimed, on the gravel of the front yard. Police told the news media that blood was found inside of the house. Police told medical staff attending to both David and his daughter that David held the girl upside down and threatened to pile drive her into the ground causing police to shoot him. Police dragged David, paralyzed, more than 100 yards over rocks and rough terrain, ripping through his skin and exposing his kneecaps.

Police said David would be arrested when he recovered.  They asked the county prosecutor to charge David with kidnapping and child abuse.

Caught On Tape.

Police were unaware for almost two hours after the shooting that the family’s neighbor had videotaped the entire event, including David's attempt at surrender, and the shooting. There was no blood inside the house. There was no blood on the front of David’s shirt. His daughter was not bleeding from either of her ears. But because police told the hospital and Child Protective Services that the little girl was bleeding before David was shot, the little girl was subjected to full body scanning. That proved police fabricated their story. There was no evidence of abuse. 
David is a Victim.

Police have asked that David be criminally charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping and child abuse.  Scottsdale police department's claim that David injured his daughter inside the home was without a basis.  The former Maricopa County Medical Examiner commented that the daughter’s injury was consistent with being caused by falling to the concrete walkway.  The truth that she fell after her father was shot made its way into medical records, despite the false statements made by police officers.  And, the photographic evidence proves how she was injured.

David himself asked  the prosecutor’s office to tell a grand jury the facts, and asked that the two officers who shot him be charged.  Officers who were sworn to protect him, but instead fabricated a crisis situation, then shot him in the back multiple times, ripped skin from his knees -- clear to his bone --  left him paralyzed for life, then created a fictional account for the media about what happened.

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