(CBS) — Newly released bodycam videos show the moments leading up to a and an unarmed black man. Officers, who are part of a for excessive force, are seen punching Robert Johnson repeatedly before wrestling him to the ground.
The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call when they encountered 33-year-old Johnson and his friend, who was accused of trying to break into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. They ordered Johnson to sit down and when he apparently fails to comply, the officers move in, reports CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas.
Three are seen punching Johnson, including several blows to the head. Surveillance video also shows an officer kneeing him in the stomach. After being handcuffed, Johnson can be heard swearing at police.
Johnson’s attorney, Benjamin Taylor, said it’s a clear case of excessive force.
“He wasn’t doing anything wrong. They searched him, they patted him down and they went over to the wall and they beat him up,” Taylor said.
Police say they acted only after Johnson refused to cooperate. In their incident report, one officer wrote Johnson’s “body language” looked like he “was preparing for a physical altercation.” Still, Mesa’s police chief is opening a formal investigation and changing police policy.
“There’s going to be a special directive that says that we will not strike somebody in the face or in the head, unless they are showing us active aggression,” said Ramon Batista, Mesa police chief.
The Mesa Police Department made national headlines in the past over excessive use of force. Officer Philip Brailsford was acquitted last year of second degree murder charges in the. Bodycam video showed unarmed Shaver crawling and begging for his life, then reaching toward his pocket before Brailsford shot him multiple times.
Batista took the job as Mesa’s police chief just last year. He moved quickly to release the videos after a local pastor told him about the incident last week. Three officers and one sergeant involved have been placed on paid administrative leave.