Four police officers in Mesa, Arizona, are on administrative leave after video surfaced of a group of cops beating an unarmed suspect unconscious at an apartment complex.
Mesa police released the video Tuesday of the confrontation between 33-year-old Robert Johnson and a group of four officers in an outdoor hallway of the complex near the intersection of Main Street and Horne.
The video shows three of the officers throwing punches after they say he resisted an order to sit down outside an elevator so that they could detain him. Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista told KNXV that the officer who did not throw a punch was a sergeant but that he and the other three cops in the video had been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation.
Batista told the station that while Johnson did not comply with officers' orders to sit down, it does not appear in the video that the level of force exerted was necessary.
One officer, standing face-to-face with Johnson in the video, appears to make solid, pounding contact with Johnson's face three to four times, including at least once after the suspect is already unconscious and sliding to the ground.
Police were called to the apartment complex shortly before midnight on May 23. A woman who lived there told police that her ex-boyfriend, 20-year-old Erick Reyes, was trying to break into her apartment, according to the Arizona Republic. Johnson was on his phone in the same hallway as Reyes when police initially detained Reyes.
"I don't feel that our officers were at their best," Batista told the newspaper. "I don't feel this situation needed to go the way that it went."
The officers have not been identified, except by rank in the case of the sergeant who did not throw a punch.
Reyes was arrested that night and charged with disorderly conduct/domestic violence and possession of drug paraphernalia. Johnson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and hindering.
Local pastor Andre Miller, who says he is Johnson's pastor, released a statement to KSAZ, along with attorneys Benjamin Taylor and Joel Robbins, that described Johnson as "cooperative" and "following police instructions." It read, in part: "The misconduct of these officers would have gone unnoticed of it had not been captured by surveillance videos at the apartment complex where the assault occurred. 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."