Mesa police accused of beating suspect, taunting him in hospital
PHOENIX — Police in Mesa are facing more scrutiny after body-cam footage of a January arrest showed officers hitting a suspect several times until he was bleeding and taunting him at the hospital.
It was fourth video of alleged excessive use of force involving the department revealed this month.
At a Thursday news conference, Jose Luis Conde, 23, described the Jan. 28 incident that started as a traffic stop, calling it “a brutal assault at the hands of Mesa police officers.”
He said after being searched he was thrown to the ground, kicked, shocked by a stun gun, punched multiple times and hit in the head with a flashlight.
“After all this, they laughed at me while I laid in a pool of my own blood, barely conscious,” he said.
Mesa Police Detective Nik Rasheta said Wednesday no complaint had been filed, nor was an internal investigation underway, but the department was preparing a report and would release video.
Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said in a statement Thursday that the tape “does not tell the full story concerning this arrest.
“With emotion running high on all sides, we know that despite our differences we are working towards the common goal: The goal to make the Mesa Police Department better than it has ever been,” Batista added.
“We have an amazing police department with hard working men and women. We will continue to support one another, keep our great city safe, and provide the highest quality of service to our community members.”
Lawyer Bret Royle, who said he’d reviewed all the video related to the case, disputed police reports that said Conde resisted arrest.
“I don’t see running,” Royle said. “I see excessive force.”
In the graphic video made public Wednesday, Conde was put on the floor at a hospital and told to “man up,” by an officer.
According to police records, Conde was told to stop moving while he was in the car during the traffic stop, but he reached under the seat more than once.
Police said Conde kicked at them and resisted arrest after being ordered out of the vehicle. They said they found five small bags of cocaine on him during the subsequent struggle.
Conde was charged with resisting arrest, possession of narcotic drugs, escape and aggravated assault on officers. He was taken, bleeding, to a hospital.
“They initially took him to the hospital to have a portion of his ear sewn back on from where it was ripped off in the initial contact with police,” Royle said.
Police said Conde tried to escape after he was treated, but he was caught and fought against them.
Police records also said Conde injured officers during his arrest.
Last week, Batista announced two investigations into his department over recent cases of alleged police brutality.
Seven officers were placed on paid administrative leave over two May incidents — five for beating a man who had been talking on his phone and two for their actions in an arrest involving a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.
Video of a November 2017 arrest (WARNING: Video contains disturbing content and language) also was released in which Mesa police allegedly called a man racial slurs and beat his head against a law enforcement vehicle.
“They have demonstrated over the last couple of weeks their willingness to put themselves above the law rather than to protect and serve it,” Royle said.