The Mesa, Arizona SWAT team is under fire after a viral video was posted on Facebook, showing an officer shooting multiple bean bag rounds at a man while they served a warrant, ABC 15 News reports.
A bystander at the apartment complex where the incident took place was able to capture the video. On Thursday, Lorenzo Jones was shot numerous times while five children stood nearby.
Court documents state Jones got into a verbal argument with his fiancé and her sister on July 6th. Jones is accused of punching his fiancée’s sister in the face at least three times as her children attempted to stop him. Jones then punched and shoved them before leaving the apartment.
Officers were called to the apartment, but upon arrival, Jones was not compliant and ran from officers. It has been reported that he ran full speed at one officer and punched him in the face, causing him to fall. He continued to resist arrest and had to be tased, officials say.
On Sunday, July 12, he was released from jail on a $5,000 bond and was scheduled to attend a status conference on Monday but was a no show. The judge over the case issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
Mesa SWAT went to the complex to serve the warrant on July 16, Jones, a woman, and five children came out of the apartment, and that is when a neighbor captured the video of their confrontation. Apparently, Jones tried to argue that he did attend court and, therefore, could not have a warrant for failure to appear. After several police commands, Jones complies with officers and put his hands up before an officer shot him with a less-lethal bean bag round.
The first shot came as the woman was holding several children right behind him. Jones then fell to the ground, appearing to be in pain as the mom got the children out of the way. Jones’ fiancée said the officer then fired two more bean bags at Jones, who was already lying on the ground.
“This is not right, said Tenisha Gaston, Jones’ fiancee. “What’s going on in the world, and now I am dealing with this.”
“He is a good man. My kids were scared.”
Gaston has since met with a local pastor and an attorney who has been vocal about police brutality in the area.
“There was no need for this,” said civil right attorney Benjamin Taylor. “Under the law, he was complying. He had his shirt off, no weapons on him. He wasn’t a threat.”
“In policing, we see a lot of excuses when we talk about force and excessive force and what was justified and what was not,” said Pastor Andre Miller. “Nobody reasonable is saying ‘Yeah, I would have shot this guy.’”
Jones was then taken into custody and had “minor abrasions” according to fire officials.
“They [the officers] felt that he was armed and dangerous,” Mesa Police Chief Ken Cost said. “It would be premature for me to comment on the split-second the officer made the decision,” said Cost. He added that the use-of-force review should take about a week, and he is not “going to jump to a conclusion on that until I have all the information.”
“We understand that any time force is used it raises a lot of questions. Less-lethal tools are exactly that, less lethal, and were developed to prevent violent actions, protect the public, save the lives of suspects as well as officers,” Mesa police said in Friday’s statement.
Jones has been charged with aggravated assault on an officer, three counts of aggravated assault on a minor, resisting arrest, assault causing fear of physical injury, and a marijuana possession charge for the marijuana found in his pocket on July 6.