Former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Aligns Himself With Rev. Jarrett Maupin to Take on Cases of Police Brutality

The couple who had a run-in with Phoenix police on May 27, 2019, have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Phoenix. At a press conference on June 17 outside City Hall discussing the incident and the lawsuit are former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (middle) and Dravon Ames, 22, and his fiancee Iesha Harper, 24. (Photo: Tom Tingle/The Republic)

He once was Arizona’s chief law enforcement official.

But in recent months, as a private defense attorney, Tom Horne has taken the cases of people who accuse police officers of brutality. That includes a couple who had guns pulled on them and their children during an investigation into shoplifting.

Horne filed a notice of claim in June on behalf of Dravon Ames and his fiancée, Iesha Harper — the couple at the center of the May 27 viral video encounter.

Horne has also taken up two other cases involving Phoenix police actions. Horne has represented the family of Jacob Harris, who was shot and killed by police in January.He also has represented Edward Brown, who was shot in the back by Phoenix officers and was left paralyzed.

In taking on these cases, Horne has allied himself with the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a community activist with a flair for the dramatic and a magnet for controversy.

Horne said Maupin has told him why he selects him for various cases. “When I want to win,” Horne quoted Maupin as saying, “I’ll give it to Tom.”

Their surprising partnership made its debut during a news conference last year at which Horne announced he was filing a $50 million notice of claim on Brown’s behalf. 

Maupin had seen his public profile drop. But with his representation of the couple and their children held at gunpoint, an encounter that has received national attention, his profile has experienced a renewed rise.

“it’s been a season of renewed friendships,” Maupin said during a phone interview Friday. He said he had received phone calls from ministers and community leaders to whom he hadn’t spoken in years.

But Maupin has not shed his divisive reputation. During a packed community meeting Tuesday called by the Phoenix mayor, the largely African-American crowd at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church booed Maupin as he took the microphone.Some called out that he was a liar and a thief as Maupin fought to regain control.

Maupin said the boos came from a “handful” of attendees. “I think what they did was contrived and not spontaneous,” Maupin said.

Horne, in an interview with The Arizona Republic Monday, said he has not paid attention to critiques of Maupin’s reputation. He called his relationship with Maupin a “valued friendship.”

Horne said that he and Maupin held joint news conferences while Horne was in office.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we agreed on enough to do those news conferences,” Horne said.

The two became closer during Horne’s 2014 re-election campaign for attorney general as Maupin arranged a series of Horne speeches at 16 black churches, Horne said.

Horne said that Maupin has sent cases to him for several years, not all of which were high profile.

In the past, Maupin has been associated with other attorneys, including Benjamin Taylor and David Dow. Taylor, in an interview, declined to detail his relationship with Maupin.

However, during high-profile events this week, the couple’s other attorney, Sandra Slaton, quickly established herself — possibly unintentionally — as the leading attorney in the matter.

Slaton, who is the founding shareholder of Horne Slaton, did more talking than Horne during a news conference outside Phoenix City Hall.

And her comments during Tuesday’s community meeting were met with booming applause from the crowd. She appeared to serve as a practical voice of reason to Maupin’s polarizing character. Horne was nowhere to be seen.

Slaton, in a phone interview Friday, would not detail how the cases alleging police brutality came to her, citing attorney-client privilege.

Slaton has practiced law in the Phoenix area for 39 years. The types of cases she handles vary, but she said her main focus is defending people’s civil rights. She said she has represented police officers who she believed had been wronged.

“I think everybody should have their civil rights defended,” she said.

Though she would not detail how the Ames case came to her, she did say she has known the family since representing one relative back in the 1980s.

“My roots go back very far,” she said.

The man in the most recent viral video, Ames, was related to Michelle Cusseaux, who was shot and killed by a Phoenix police officer in 2014, Slaton said. The officer, who had a court order to take Cusseaux to a mental-health facility, said Cusseaux opened the door with a claw hammer raised above her head.

The department ruled the shooting fell “outside of department policy” and demoted the sergeant who fired the shots. The city reached a settlement with Cusseaux’s mother, Frances Garrett.

Maupin led protests about the Cusseaux shooting, including wheeling her casket around City Hall, telling reporters and the public, falsely, that her body was inside. Maupin admitted the ruse to the Republic in 2016.

Slaton said her relationship with the family began well before then. “My association is completely independent,” she said.

She also said that her law firm is independent from Maupin.

“My law firm has no relationship with Rev. Maupin that I know of,” she said.

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Source: AZ Central