Say what you will about former prosecutor April Sponsel, but she’s committed to the bit.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office fired Sponsel after determining that she charged a random photographer as a “gang member” for standing on the street as a protest went by. At her state bar trial, Sponsel is not backing down:
“People can be out there taking photos of the sunset and then go home and murder their spouse,” Sponsel said in response to a question from her attorney. “Does that necessarily mean they were innocent of murdering their spouse because they were taking pictures of the sunset earlier in the day? No.”
Sure… but you still can’t prosecute them for murdering their spouse because they were taking pictures before murdering their spouse. And as the case may be, you definitely can’t prosecute someone taking photos with a bunch of gang crimes when they don’t go home and join a gang.
The bar is looking at a wide range of misconduct, but kicked off the case asking Sponsel about a Ryder Collins, a nurse with a photography hobby who happened to be taking pictures in Phoenix when a protest passed by on the street. Despite multiple videos showing Collins had no involvement with the passing protest, Sponsel added Collins to the list of prosecutions she brought against the protesters for belonging to the fake gang.
Yes, that’s right, there never was any gang in the first place! There’s a colorable argument that the protest committed offenses during the event, but the whole “gang” aspect was invented by Sponsel and the cops.
As her office put it when notifying her of her dismissal:
You wrongfully indicted an innocent person because you presented inaccurate evidence to a grand jury, you failed to review available evidence, and when you were made aware that you may have an innocent person under indictment you did little to ensure that your prosecution was just.
Most folks in that situation would adopt a defense based on making a mistake based on lacking key information instead of “shutterbugs might commit future crime,” but Sponsel apparently isn’t most folks.
The notice of dismissal is a wild read, because while it opens up with the Collins matter, it describes a whole mess of other trumped up charges that it might’ve never found but for reassigning her cases while she went on temporary administrative leave over the Collins matter.
It just goes to show you that people can be out there representing the state and then go home and drop false charges on innocent people.
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