Newly released body camera footage from January shows police officers in Mesa, Ariz., hitting and mocking a 23-year-old man they were taking into custody.
It’s the third use-of-force controversy for the Phoenix suburb so far this month. The police chief told The Associated Press that the arrest is under review.
The video was shared with the press by Bret Royle, a lawyer representing Jose Luis Conde, the man arrested in the video.
Royle said that the video shows an arrest that was more brutal than the arresting officers described in their official report.
“We’re not here trying to seek monetary damages,” he said at a press conference Thursday. “We’re trying to exonerate Jose of charges brought about by the Mesa police department.”
Conde, who was unarmed, was charged with narcotics possession, escape, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on police, The Arizona Republic reports. The arresting officers reportedly sustained injuries to their knuckles, arms, hands and knees, resulting in the felony charge of aggravated assault.
“It’s really salt to the wounds because not only did you beat him up but charge him with the injuries you sustained from beating him,” Royle told the paper.
The footage released does not show the moments leading up to the arrest.
The AP describes the incident in question, first as recounted by police, then as documented on video:
“The 23-year-old landscape worker was a passenger in a car Mesa police stopped Jan. 28 for possible drunken driving. An officer did a pat-down search of him and believed he was concealing drugs, according to the police incident report.
“The officer then thought Conde was going to attack him and took him to the ground. He continued to struggle and allegedly swung his fists at the officer. They later found three baggies appearing to contain cocaine inside his sock.
“While two officers sustained scrapes, Conde was transported to a hospital. Police said Conde tried to flee his hospital room but was caught in the hallway and pushed back by officers.
“Video shows an officer punched and elbowed Conde four times while he was handcuffed.”
The first video shows Conde screaming in pain as the police punch him. In addition, Conde said at the press conference that he was tazed, thrown into a wall, gouged in the eye and hit with a flashlight.
A second video shows a bloodied Conde later lying on the ground in the hospital hallway while an officer mockingly says “Awwwww.”
The officer tells Conde to “man up.” At one point the gathered officers laugh at a remark made by a nurse.
“After all of this, they laughed,” Conde said at the press conference. “They laughed at me while I laid in a pool of my own blood, barely conscious — and this is no laughing matter.”
“And what happens to these guys? Nothing. … They just go back to their jobs and they possibly do this to other people, and that’s unacceptable,” he said.
Two other videos of violent arrests by Mesa police have prompted multiple investigations.
The first video, as NPR reported, showed police repeatedly punching an unarmed man in the face when he leaned against a wall instead of sitting down. The May 23 beating was captured on surveillance camera footage and a member of the community brought it to the attention of the police chief, who released footage to the public in early June.
On Wednesday, a judge dropped the charges against Robert Johnson, the man assaulted in that arrest.
A second video, also from May, was released last week. It shows police arresting a 15-year-old suspected of armed robbery. After the teenager cursed at police, officers were seen repeatedly “pushing on pressure points behind the boy’s ears, on the back of his jaw,” as a reporter for ABC 15 described it.
A total of seven police officers have been placed on administrative leave as those two arrests are investigated, local media report.