On May 23, 2018 several officers from the Mesa Police Department repeatedly punched Robert Johnson after he failed to follow their instructions. The incident, which was captured on video, raised questions about police conduct towards minorities.
Police in the city of Scottsdale said the Mesa department asked them to conduct an independent criminal investigation of the Johnson encounter on May 23. After reviewing hours of video, Scottsdale police said in a statement that investigators determined “the use of force was legally authorized and justified” under state law.
They said the investigation was presented to prosecutors for review and “they concurred with our findings.”
Lawyers for Johnson, 33, said he still is recovering from a concussion, scrapes and bruises and that the matter likely will wind up in court.
“The only justice that he’s going to get is from a civil jury,” Phoenix attorney Joel Robbins said.
Mesa police said in a statement that five officers are still on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation and “as a result, our department cannot discuss this matter in greater detail at this time.”
A police report said Johnson was “verbally defiant and confrontational,” but his attorneys said there was no reason for officers to hit him.
“Mesa police beat a man for not sitting down when they wanted him to sit down,” Robbins said. “It boggles my mind.”
Johnson originally was charged with disorderly conduct and hindering prosecution, but charges were dropped on June 14.