MESA, Ariz. – An attorney for an Arizona man whose beating by police was caught on camera says the Mesa Police Department officers should be suspended and disciplined.
Four officers are on leave while the department investigates the May 23 incident in which three officers are seen punching the man, who does not appear to resist arrest. Other officers also were in the area. The video is from an apartment complex surveillance camera.
Attorney Benjamin Taylor says his client, Robert Johnson, was not a threat and had already been searched when police started punching him.
Mesa police say officers were responding to a call from a woman who said her ex-boyfriend was trying to break into her apartment. Police arrived and found the ex-boyfriend, Erick Reyes, 20, along with Johnson, 33. Both were detained.
The video shows Johnson standing against a wall looking at his phone while Reyes is sitting on the ground. There is no audio. Officers can be seen approaching Johnson and then quickly punching him numerous times. They pull him to the ground and flip him over. Johnson never appears to threaten or resist the officers.
"He's a good guy and he didn't deserve to be beat up," Taylor said. Taylor said he wants the charges of disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution to be dropped.
Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said the incident was brought to his attention by a Mesa pastor, prompting him to launch an internal investigation and place three officers and a sergeant on leave. Batista has said he is issuing a directive that prohibits officers from hitting people in the face, head and neck unless there is active aggression against them.
The department has been criticized in the past few years for incidents involving use of force. A former officer who was fired for violating department policy was tried but acquitted on a murder charge in the 2016 fatal shooting of a Texas man who was unarmed and on the ground.