Four police officers in Mesa, Arizona have been put on an administrative leave after surveillance cameras caught them using excessive force on an unarmed man on his cellphone.
According to ABC15, Mesa police chief Ramon Batista confirmed the officers were responding to a domestic violence report at an apartment complex on May 23.
An unidentified woman had initially called police to report that her ex-boyfriend, 20-year-old Erick Reyes, was trying to break into her apartment.
Once the officers arrived, they found Reyes with his friend 33-year-old Robert Johnson. Officers told Reyes to sit down and he complied. Batista said Johnson was then heading to the elevator when officers asked him to sit down as well. According to Batista, Johnson did no comply and he resisted.
However, the surveillance footage shows Johnson not resisting and sitting against the wall.
(Warning: The footage is graphic)
In the surveillance video, Johnson is seen leaning against the railing and speaking on his phone while officers search him. Once their search comes up clear, they instruct him to move to the other wall and sit. He begins sitting against the wall then the officers strike him several times.
The elevator doors open and assist in the arrest.
Batista said while four officers were involved, only three officers were involved in hitting Johnson, while the sergeant was the lone officer who did not.
Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct and hindering. Reyes was charged with disorderly conduct-domestic violence and paraphernalia.
After the video was released, Batista said the behavior exhibited by his officers was not protocol.
"This in no way represents the whole work that is done every day," Batista told ABC15. "They're human beings and certainly at first glance, this looks like a mistake."
Once Johnson's pastor saw the video, he joined two attorneys to help come to Johnson's defense.
"There is no explanation that you can justify that level of force," Pastor Andre Miller with New Beginnings Church told ABC15.
Miller told ABC15 he'd be "happy" if Chief Batista fired the involved officers.
"I understand that police have to use force in certain situations," Miller said. "At the end of the day, when do you not use force?"
(Photo: Mesa Police Department)