Four Arizona police officers have been placed on administrative leave after surveillance video showed them attacking an unarmed man during an arrest.
According to the New York Times, the incident occurred on May 23, but was released earlier this week after a civilian told officials about the video. In the footage, 35-year-old Robert Johnson can be seen standing on the balcony of an apartment building, talking on a cellphone.
According to NBC News, Johnson was at the apartment complex to help his friend retrieve his belongings from his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Although, he was not being investigated at the time of the incident, officials were called as part of a domestic dispute.
Upon arrival, officers emerge from the elevator and into the camera frame, as they told the unarmed man to sit down. Although the video did not have sound, the incident escalated as the officers struggled to get him to sit. However, amid the struggle, the officers punched, kicked and shoved Johnson to the ground before handcuffing him.
Johnson was then booked on charges of disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution,” according to the publication. However, he was released on his own recognizance the following day.
The video sparked widespread outrage, which prompted the police chief to speak out about the situation. Although Johnson was given “very calm direction” to sit down, according to Chief Batista, “When [Johnson] didn’t sit down, our officers then engaged in use of force to make him sit down.”
However, he said “I don’t feel that our officers were at their best,” adding, “I don’t feel that this situation needed to go the way that it went.” Chief Batista also revealed that the officers have been taken off active service pending investigation.
“This in no way represents the whole work that is done every day,” Batista said. “They’re human beings and certainly at first glance this looks like a mistake, it doesn’t look right. And it’s my job, it’s our job to collectively investigate and find the answers to this.”