Here is the timeline of Mesa police incidents during Batista’s tenure
PHOENIX — The Mesa Police Department has been embroiled in controversy since early 2017, with multiple officers being put on paid leave after videos surfaced of them allegedly assaulting suspects during arrests.
Chief Ramon Batista, who has said he was “deeply disappointed” by his officers’ actions and hired a former prosecutor to review some of confrontations, stepped down from his position Monday.
In June the Mesa Police Association held a vote in which 95% of officers surveyed said they had no confidence in Batista, who was hired June 12, 2017.
Here is a timeline of use-of-force incidents involving Mesa officers, and the fallout from them, during Batista’s tenure.
Body-cam footage (WARNING: Video contains disturbing content and language) shows 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.
It was not clear whether any of the officers involved were placed on leave or fired.
Body-cam footage showed Mesa officers hitting Jose Luis Conde, 23, 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. Police said Conde kicked at them and resisted arrest after being ordered out of the vehicle.
Conde called the incident “a brutal assault at the hands of Mesa police officers,” saying he was thrown to the ground, kicked, shocked by a stun gun, punched multiple times and hit in the head with a flashlight.
It was 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.”
Two Mesa officers were put on leave after a May 16 incident involving two teenagers.
Police had been called to a convenience store after reports that a young man allegedly pointed a rifle at a patron and smashed a car windshield.
Body-cam footage 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.
Five Mesa officers were pulled from duty after body-cam footage showed them using their fists to subdue a man who had been on the phone.
A group of officers stopped Robert Johnson who was standing nearby, talking on his cellphone. Officers patted him down and ordered him to sit down against a wall.
When he didn’t, 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.
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.
Batista announced two independent investigations into his department and said he was “deeply disappointed” by his officers’ actions in several highly publicized videos that appeared to show police brutality.
He also asked Washington D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum to investigate the department’s use of force over past three years as well as its policies, procedures and training.
An investigation into the May 23 incident determined that no criminal charges were warranted.
The Scottsdale Police Department, which conducted the investigation, concluded that “the use of force was legally authorized and justified under Arizona State Law.”
The results were presented to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which agreed with the findings.
The FBI announced it would investigate the May 23 incident, as well as Mesa officer-involved shootings that occurred in 2016 and 2017.
Johnson filed a claim against the city of Mesa and eight officers for $1.974 million over damages caused when he was beaten by police during the May 23 incident.
The claim said Johnson sought medical treatment for his physical, mental and emotional injuries.
It said Johnson was still being treated by a psychologist and that his physical injuries “have not stabilized and may never stabilize.”
A young man who said a Mesa police officer used unnecessary force during a DUI arrest filed a notice of claim for more than $200,000.
Brandon Hicks, 23, said the officer pushed him to the ground in May, causing him to break an ankle.
The Mesa Police Association wrote in a Facebook post that recent use-of-force incidents were “wildly exaggerated and fueled by Chief Batista’s epic failure of leadership.”
The union detailed their grievances against the chief and called for him to change.
After holding a vote in May, the Mesa Police Association announced that 95% of 564 officers surveyed said they do not have confidence in Batista.