A recently surfaced surveillance video shows multiple Arizona police officers brutally beating a man as other officers stood by and watched.
The Mesa police officers said they had to beat Robert Johnson because he would not comply with their orders to sit down on the ground as they investigated his friend.
The incident took place right before midnight on May 23, 2018 at an apartment complex from where a call was placed to 911 stating that Johnson's friend, Erick Reyes, was trying to enter his ex-girlfriend’s apartment where he apparently was no longer welcome.
Police responded and came across Reyes and Johnson in the area. They asked Reyes to sit down and he complied.
But they say Johnson continued walking to the elevator, which is where the video picks up.
After a very brief exchange of words, an officer approaches Johnson in the video and pats him down, which is when police claim they asked him to sit down.
But they said he refused, leaving them no choice but to beat him.
Johnson was cited for disorderly conduct and hindering.
Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista has since placed three officers and one sergeant on administrative leave after the video was brought to his attention.
"I didn't know anything about this, and the way I learned about this is because a member of the community sent me the video and said, 'hey, this looks very alarming, and I need you to look at it,'" said Chief Batista.
According to ABC15, Pastor Andre Miller, Attorney Joel Robbins, and Attorney Benjamin Taylor released the following joint statement on the incident:
"On May 23rd, 2018, Robert Johnson was beaten by multiple Mesa Police officers while others looked on. Mr. Johnson was cooperative and following police instructions. Mr. Johnson was sitting peacefully against a wall when the assault began. He did not resist. The misconduct of these officers would have gone unnoticed if it had not been captured by surveillance videos at the apartment complex where the assault occurred. We hope and pray that the Mesa Police Department will accept responsibility for the misconduct of these officers. Mesa must take concrete steps to ensure that culpable officers are disciplined, retrained, or dismissed. The Mesa Police Department must develop a law enforcement culture that meets community and constitutional norms and ensures that police and citizens go home safely after police interactions. We plan on holding a press conference Thursday, June 7, 2018 to discuss this incident and the culture of violence at the Mesa Police Department."
According to AZFamily, the Mesa Police Association also released a statement Tuesday,
The Mesa Police Association feels it is grossly inappropriate to release a portion of video with no audio that does not include the full context of the encounter. Furthermore, we don't understand why video is being released when an internal investigation has not been completed. It is important to understand that any use of force, when viewed, is difficult to watch and never looks "good."
This not the first time Mesa Police Department has made headlines. In November of 2015, The department made headlines when they beat a man for making a phone call. They also made national news when Mesa police officer Philip "Mitch" Brailsford killed Daniel Shaver.
Mesa Police Department has a Facebook page that is open for comments if you choose to voice your concerns, you can do so by clicking here.