Police response to NCAA crowd called mostly proper

AP News
Posted: Jul 03, 2014 4:17 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A city review board concluded that Tucson police's response to a large crowd after the University of Arizona basketball team lost in the NCAA tournament last March was generally proper but one sergeant acted inappropriately by shoving people.

The Police Department board of inquiry's report released Wednesday says the sergeant shoved three people during the March 29 incident near the university campus.

The shoving of one woman across a bench was captured on video by a bystander and was previously reported by the news media.

Findings will be released later on the sergeant, who is now on military leave, said Sgt. Pete Dugan, a spokesman for the department.

Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said snippets of video shown on social and news media coverage contradict the "restraint and professionalism" displayed by most officers that night.

Arizona lost 64-63 to Wisconsin in the West Region final in Anaheim, California.

The report said the crowd that gathered at an intersection was peaceful at first but that people in the crowd began taunting police and throwing bottles and firecrackers at officers before they were dispersed.

The incident resulted in 15 misdemeanor arrests, mostly of university students, several minor injuries and officers using nonlethal ammunition against the crowd.

"Overall, this incident was handled appropriately, insofar as the crowd was dispersed in a fairly short time frame with no significant injury or property damage," the report said.

Isolated issues involving use of force by police "should not cast a shadow on the general success of the response," the board said.

However, the board also recommended that the department take steps in training, equipment and other areas to prepare for future crowd-control incidents.

The board's nine members included senior police officials, a police captain, a sergeant, an officer and three assistant city attorneys.

The board said it conducted dozens of interviews, read hundreds of pages of reports and viewed more than 100 hours of video footage. Many officers involved were equipped with body cameras.