Black man brutally assaulted by Mesa, AZ police demands accountability

A 35-year-old Mesa, AZ resident held a press conference to demand action against police officers who kicked and punched him in an incident caught on security cameras last month.


According to AZ Central, a 35-year-old Mesa, AZ resident held a press conference at his home church to demand action against the police officers who kicked and punched him in an incident caught on security cameras last month.

“I want Mesa to be held accountable for what they have done,” Johnson said Thursday at a news conference while flanked by his fiancé, his daughters, his pastor, and his attorneys.

“I don’t want this to happen to no one,” said Johnson, who says he has been “stressed and hurting” since the incident.

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The Police Encounter

Robert Johnson and his friend Erick Reyes were arrested on May 23, 2018 at an apartment building where Reyes’ ex-girlfriend lived. According to Mesa police, someone called 911 to report that someone was trying to force his way into Reyes’ ex-girlfriend’s home. Reyes says he was trying to retrieve items that belonged to him.

The encounter between Johnson, Reyes and the police escalated kneed and punched Johnson as he leaned up against the wall.

The officer in question, Johnte Jones, said he hit Johnson because Johnson leaned against the wall and extended his feet instead of sitting specifically as instructed.

“Johnson’s body language was projecting he was preparing for a physical altercation,” the police report said. “Johnson’s shoulders were bowed forward slightly and head slightly nodded.

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“That was a position I recognized from past physical confrontations where a person ops (sic) to look toward the floor in order to use their peripheral vision to track several opponents simultaneously,” wrote Jones.  “Johnson’s breathing became shallower and intentional, suggesting physiologically his body was transitioning to fight-or-flight mode.”

Other officers joined in on the assault, which was captured by security cameras and the officers’ body cameras.  Johnson was handcuffed, had his feet tied together and was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and hindering police.  Reyes was  arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia.

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Police Department Response

Five police officers have been put on leave, pending an investigation into excessive force claims. The Scottsdalle Police Department is spearheading the investigation in the Mesa Police Department.

Johnson’s pastor, Andre Miller, says Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista has been very responsive ever since Miller brought the incident to Batista’s attention. Reportedly, Batista launched an investigation the same day he heard of the encounter and has already amended the department’s use-of-force policy.

The new policy states that officers may not strike suspects above the shoulders “unless there is active aggression being exhibited by an individual toward the officer.”

Johnson’s attorney, Benjamin Taylor, wants the criminal charges against his client  dropped. He also said he is considering filing a notice of claim against the police department. A notice of claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.