Five Mesa police officers have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of criminal and administrative investigations including an incident where an officer allegedly flushed a small fetus down a toilet.
Police Chief George Gascón said he believes one officer used excessive force in the other case.
Gascón said he became aware of both incidents Tuesday and held a news conference Wednesday.
Four officers responded to a call of a possible miscarriage Monday at the Motel 6 in Mesa where they arrested a man on suspicion of drug-related offenses and discovered a woman in the room apparently had miscarried a 4-inch fetus that was an estimated 12 to 14 weeks old, according to Gascón.
Although both Mesa fire and police were present in the motel room, Lt. Lynn Young told the officers and fire personnel over the phone not to take the fetus but to flush it down the toilet, according to Gascón.
A supervisor who was reading incident reports at the Dobson District station first came across details about the disposal of the fetus and brought it to the attention of a division commander, who contacted the assistant chief of operations who called Gascón.
Police said Young was placed on paid administrative leave along with the other three officers who responded to the call involving the miscarriage — Kristen Johnson, Robert Buquo and Glenn Pearson, who was the lead officer in the case.
In the other incident, police said officer Nicholas Webster was seen on an arrest video May 16 shoving a handcuffed man's head into the rear windshield of a patrol cruiser before repeatedly pushing his face and shoulder into a chain-link fence inside the inmate booking area.
Gascón said police plan to forward both cases to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office within the next few days to see if prosecutors will recommend any charges against any of the officers involved in the incidents.