Suspect’s family plans to sue Mesa for rights violation during arrest

Jun 15, 2018, 9:31 AM | Updated: Jun 21, 2018, 2:06 pm

PHOENIX — A Mesa family planned to file a lawsuit after a series of videos posted online showed an officer using a stun gun on a screaming man pinned to the ground.

Police in the East Valley city have come under heavy criticism in the past weeks for actions taken by some officers during arrests. Four incidents in particular have called into question the department’s use of force policy.

Daniel Armijo was arrested April 19, 2017. In one of the segments — there were nearly two dozen of the arrest uploaded Thursday — an officer told the others in the group that Armijo had been kicking at them as his car door opened.

Phoenix-area rights activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin, acting as a spokesman for the family, said in a statement, “Mesa needs federal intervention to address civil rights violations and the urgent need for the retraining of their police force.”

Maupin said the family was retaining civil rights attorney Anthony Ramirez and plans to file a federal lawsuit against the city.

Armijo’s mother, Trish Poling, said in the statement that Mesa’s patrol officers were “out of control.”

Videos of other arrests have made the news since the month began.

In one, a man talking on cellphone was punched repeatedly by officers on May 23 after he failed to sit on the ground as ordered. Robert Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution, but the charges were dropped this week.

In another, two teens suspected of robbing a convenience store were arrested May 17. At one point, police put pressure on the neck and head of a 15-year-boy while he was facedown on a sidewalk.

In a third incident from Jan. 28, police arrested Jose Conde. He was hit several times, then was taken to the hospital bleeding. At the hospital, he was taunted of officers. That video surfaced this week.

Body-camera footage of an older incident, from Nov. 17, 2017, showed Terence Kirkpatrick’s arrest. He was told he’d be arrested for trespassing and ordered to get on the ground.

He had been lying on a sofa and was eventually put in cuffs after a struggle.

Maupin said police demonstrated “aggressive and seemingly unprofessional conduct.”

Police Chief Ramon Batista has asked for an independent review of the department’s use of force policy.

“As more events come forward we will carefully review each incident as appropriate,” Detective Nik Rasheta said earlier this week.

He said the latest video was now included.

The family was setting up a press conference next week.

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Suspect’s family plans to sue Mesa for rights violation during arrest