Mesa man sues police department, city over alleged brutality
PHOENIX – A Valley man who was arrested last year filed a civil lawsuit for brutality against the Mesa Police Department, alleging he was viciously beaten for no reason and choked until he lost consciousness.
Christian Ivan Topete was arrested in October 2017 and charged with two counts of aggravated assault on an officer and one count each of resisting arrest, assault, criminal damage and unlawful imprisonment.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on Tuesday, police went to Topete’s apartment after a neighbor reported hearing an argument.
The suit said Topete and Karina Lopez had been arguing about their son, but there was no physical altercation or complaint by Lopez.
The police booking report, however, said Topete was seen hitting Lopez in the face, and she said she feared for her safety.
It also said Topete failed to obey commands and tried to pull away, which led to the physical altercation. The report also indicated that he was under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
“In the course of the incident, officers made contact with Christian Topete. While attempting to detain him, a use-of-force encounter occurred,” Mesa Police Detective Nik Rasheta said in a statement.
He also said the case was being investigated by the professional standards unit.
According to the lawsuit, Topete was on his couch, unarmed, when officers arrived, and he did not resist or do anything to provoke being physically attacked while his 2-year-old son was sleeping in the next room.
Topete is seeking unspecified compensation for damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
The lawsuit says the beating left Topete with a fractured nose, bruised ribs, two black eyes, lacerated lips and broken blood vessels in both eyes.
It also cited mental, physical, emotional and familial distress and economic damages.
The suit names the city of Mesa, the Mesa Police Department, Chief Ramon Batista and two officers, Kristen Johnson and Nathan Sund, as defendants.
The department has been under scrutiny for multiple allegations of brutality.
In August, it was announced that the FBI would be investigating two of the incidents.
The Scottsdale Police Department has completed investigations of two incidents and determined that no charges were warranted in either case.