ARIZONA NEWS

Here is the timeline of Mesa officers’ recent use-of-force incidents

Jun 15, 2018, 6:04 AM | Updated: Aug 17, 2018, 4:02 pm
(Facebook/Mesa Police Department)...
(Facebook/Mesa Police Department)
(Facebook/Mesa Police Department)

PHOENIX — The Mesa Police Department has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks, with seven officers having been put on paid leave after multiple videos surfaced of them allegedly assaulting suspects during arrest.

Chief Ramon Batista said during a press conference on June 8, the day after the first video became public, that he was “deeply disappointed” by his officers’ actions and hired a former prosecutor to review two of the confrontations.

“I will be relentless in my pursuit of organizational excellence … I promise you I will fix this,” Batista said.

Hired a year ago, Batista also reached out to the Police Executive Research Forum, asking for an independent review of cases involving the department’s use of force over the past three years.

This is not the first time the department has come under fire: Last year, an officer was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting of Daniel Shaver in a hotel.

Here is a timeline of use-of-force incidents involving Mesa officers, in chronological order of when the arrests were made.


April 19, 2017

The family of Daniel Armijo posted a series of videos of his year-old arrest Thursday. In one segment, he was shown on the ground, held down by officers and shocked with a stun gun.

In one of the videos, an officer told the others in the group that Armijo had been kicking at them as soon as his car door opened.

A spokesman for the family said they were retaining civil rights attorney Anthony Ramirez and planned to file a federal lawsuit against the city.

Nov. 17, 2017

(Screenshot)

The second-oldest incident regarding use of force by Mesa officers that was brought to light recently occurred Nov. 17, 2017.

Body-camera footage (WARNING: Video contains disturbing content and language) was released June 6 of 29-year-old Terence Kirkpatrick, a black man, being “questionably assaulted, hogtied, hobbled, and mishandled” by Mesa police.

The alleged assault came after Kirkpatrick called the police to report being assaulted by a person attempting to forcefully enter his apartment.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an activist in the Phoenix area, said in a later statement that the police demonstrated “aggressive and seemingly unprofessional conduct” against Kirkpatrick.

Maupin also claimed that officers allegedly called Kirkpatrick racial slurs and beat his head against a law enforcement vehicle.

Maupin also called on an outside investigation to determine whether the officers followed department policies and procedures.

It was not clear whether any of the officers involved were placed on leave or fired.

Jan. 28, 2018

Jose Luis Conde, 23, was arrested Jan. 28.

Body-cam footage released Wednesday showed officers hitting Conde several times until he was bleeding and later taunting him at the hospital.

In the graphic video, 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.

Police records also said Conde injured officers during his arrest.

Conde described the incident Thursday 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.

It was also not clear whether any of the officers involved in this incident were placed on leave or fired.

Batista said in a statement that the tape “does not tell the full story concerning this arrest” and that he was working to make the department “better than it has ever been.”

May 16, 2018

Two Mesa officers were put on leave after a May 16 incident involving two teenagers. A 15-year-old boy was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery with a deadly weapon, theft of a means of transportation and aggravated robbery.

Police had been called to a convenience store near Country Club Drive and McLellan Road after reports that a young man allegedly pointed a sawed-off .22 caliber rifle at the store and at least one patron. The teen also allegedly smashed a car windshield, according to police documents.

Officers detained the 15-year-old and a 16-year-old girl in front of a residence about a half-mile from the store. The rifle and a backpack were found on a patio.

Body-cam footage, which was released June 7, showed the 15-year-old resisting and using graphic language as officers were detaining him.

At one point, the boy could be heard screaming as an officer put pressure on his head and neck while asking where the gun was.

Court documents said the boy told police that blood on his hands and shirt was from “officers slamming his face on the ground” but that he did not have any injuries.

The two officers who were placed on leave were not identified.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the incident occurred May 17.

May 23, 2018

Five officers were pulled from duty after body-cam video was released June 7 of them using their fists to subdue a man who had been on the phone.

Police said they were responding to a domestic-disturbance call at an apartment complex near Main Street and Horne on May 23.

Surveillance video showed two men on an upper floor of the complex. Officers arrived and one detained Erick Reyes, 20, the ex-boyfriend that the caller had accused of to trying to break into her apartment.

A group of officers then stopped Robert Johnson, 33, who was standing nearby, talking on his cellphone. Officers patted him down against a rail while he remained on the phone. They found no weapons on him.

Johnson was then ordered to sit down against a wall. When he didn’t, instead leaning on the wall near an elevator, three officers grabbed him and at least two punched him in the face; another pulled his legs out from under him until he sank to the ground.

Johnson was initially charged with disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution, but the charges were dropped Thursday.

Batista said he knew nothing of the physical nature of the arrest until he was sent the video a week later.

“(They) said, ‘Hey, this looks very alarming. … I need you to look at it,’” Batista said of the person who sent the video.

The officers put on leave were later identified as Jhonte Jones, Rudy Monarrez, Ernesto Calderon, Robert Gambee and William Abbiatti.

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Here is the timeline of Mesa officers’ recent use-of-force incidents