Four Arizona police officers are on administrative leave after video surfaced of an incident in which a suspect was punched multiple times.
In the surveillance video, Robert Johnson can be seen standing in front of an elevator when the four Mesa police officers approach him and three of them start punching him.
“This in no way represents the whole work that is done every day,” Mesa police chief Ramon Batista told ABC affiliate KNXV shortly after the May 23 arrest. “They’re human beings and certainly at first glance this looks like a mistake.”
According to the police report, officers were responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment building.
The woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was trying to break into her apartment.
The officers arrived and came in contact with Johnson and the ex-boyfriend, Erick Reyes, who were leaving the area.
The officers told both men to sit down, to which Reyes complied but Johnson did not.
The police report says that Johnson was leaning back against a wall but “In that position Johnson not only had lateral mobility, but also a strong base in the wall to fight off of.”
Johnson also resisted, according to the report, leading officers to strike him several times. Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution while Reyes was charged with disorderly conduct-domestic violence and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Batista did not learn about the incident until a community member told him a week later, KNXV reported.
Batista started an investigation into the incident which led to the officers being put on leave.
Johnson’s pastor, Andre Miller, saw the video and reached out to attorneys Joel Robbins and Benjamin Taylor for help, according to KNXV.
“We hope and pray that the Mesa Police Department will accept responsibility for the misconduct of these officers,” the attorneys said in a joint statement. “Mesa must take concrete steps to ensure that culpable officers are disciplined, retrained, or dismissed.”
The Mesa Police Association, which represents some of the officers involved, also released a statement on the incident and the release of the video.
“We do not understand why video is being released when an internal investigation has not been completed,” the statement said. 'It is important to understand that any use of force, when viewed, is difficult to watch and never looks 'good.''