After an Arizona man was shot with multiple “bean bag rounds” by the Mesa SWAT team in front of his children on Thursday (July 16), the department is now under scrutiny for “excessive force.”
A video shared on Facebook by a bystander shows 26-year-old Lorenzo Jones on the sidewalk of an apartment complex standing next to his fiancé Tenisha Gaston and their children. Police were reportedly serving him a warrant and can be heard ordering Jones to put his hands up.
Complying with the orders, Jones hands one of his children off to Gaston as they exchange a few words. Suddenly, “bean bag” shots are fired striking jones, according to AZ Central. After Jones drops to the ground, an officer then fires two more bean bags shots at Jones.
Officials report that Jones suffered “minor abrasions” from the incident.
"Mesa police have a history of harassing the community, of harassing their own citizens," said the family’s attorney Benjamin Taylor who is also calling for an investigation into the officers who fired at Jones. "There was no need for him to be shot in front of his children."
According to court documents, police report that a warrant had been issued for Jones after police responded to a domestic violence call on July 6. He allegedly punched his fiancee’s sister in the face.
ABC-15 reports that once officers arrived on the scene for the July 6 incident, Jones did not comply and also reportedly “ran at an officer full speed and jumped and punched the officer in the face causing him to fall.” He then fled from the scene and was later arrested.
On Sunday (July 12), Jones was released on a $5,000 bond. However, on Monday (July 13), he failed to appear for his status conference and was issued a bench warrant by the judge. Mesa SWAT went to serve the warrant three days later.
"They [the officers] felt that he was armed and dangerous," said Mesa Police Chief Ken Cost. "It would be premature for me to comment on the split-second the officer made the decision."
Cost said that it would take close to a week for a comprehensive “use-of-force” review to take place.
"We understand that any time force is used it raises a lot of questions. Less-lethal tools are exactly that, less lethal, and were developed to prevent violent actions, protect the public, save the lives of suspects as well as officers," said Mesa police in a statement on Friday (July 17).
Lorenzo Jones currently faces three counts of aggravated assault on a minor, aggravated assault on an officer, assault causing fear of physical injury, resisting arrest, and marijuana possession.
(Photo Credit: Facebook via Shampall Williams)