Mesa police chief says he’s angry over recent use-of-force incidents

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Johnson’s attorneys have said there was no justification for the force used. Five officers have been placed on leave pending an investigation into that incident.

Police said Thursday that two additional officers have been placed on leave after a review of the May 17 arrest of a 15-year-old boy who was charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Batista did not go into the details of the officers’ conduct in that arrest on Friday, or what actions may have violated policy.

The department released body camera video Thursday that shows officers cursing at the boy, and him cursing at officers. At one point an officer warns: “Try to move on me one more time I’m gonna f— you up, you understand that?”

At one point it appears that a foot is placed near the back of his neck while he is on the ground, when it appears that he is handcuffed.

An officer wrote in an arrest report that at one point he was controlling the robbery suspect by applying pressure to his jawline, and that a foot was placed on his shoulders to keep him from getting up. Police said a gun was found in a backpack near the scene.

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Johnson’s attorney, Benjamin Taylor, said Friday of the steps outlined by the police chief: “We’re one step closer to hopefully cleaning up the Mesa Police Department’s culture.”

He said that he wants charges against Johnson dropped, and that they are exploring all legal options, including a lawsuit. Taylor said “we support police officers and police officers have a hard job,” but that after an investigation the officers found to have struck Johnson should be fired, and any found to have allowed it to happen should be punished as well.

The Mesa Police Association, the union that represents officers, also did not immediately return a request for comment, but the union said after video of Johnson’s encounter with police was released that “any use of force, when viewed, is difficult to watch and never looks ‘good.'”

Batista said Friday that he is committed to restoring the public’s trust.

“The actions shown on that video, and all these recent videos, do not reflect the vast majority of the men and women of the Mesa Police Department,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, I promise you: We will fix this.”



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