The man seen on video being mercilessly beaten by four Mesa, Arizona officers is speaking out since his violent encounter with police early last month.
Robert Johnson, 35, struggled to speak Thursday as he recalled the incident in front of a crowd of reporters.
” … I am a family man and a God-fearing person,” Johnson said at the news conference, his voice low. “I want Mesa to be held accountable for what they have done. Just basically stressed and hurting… everything that was going on at the time… ”
Surveillance footage of the May 13 incident shows policemen approach Johnson, who was standing near the elevator texting and begin punching him several times in the head and abdomen. The elevator door opens seconds later to reveal more officers, who quickly jumped in on the assault.
Police were reportedly responding to a domestic disturbance call when the brutal attack unfolded, local station News 12 reported.
“I don’t want this to happen to no one in particular to this system … I’m sorry,” Johnson said, choking back tears.
Newly-released body cam footage of the encounter shows the moment three Mesa police officers and a sergeant first confronted the unsuspecting man, telling him to have a seat. The suspect they were looking for, Johnson’s 20-year-old friend Erik Reyes, complies with officers commands but Johnson remains standing. The officers claimed his body language suggested he was “preparing for a physical altercation,” prompting their use of force.
“They beat him up and hog-tied him,” Johnson’s attorney, Ben Taylor, said at Thursday’s news conference. “People know that Mesa PD has been hurting and harming citizens. Mr. Johnson is the victim in this case.”
At one point, the video shows one of the officers ram Johnson’s head into the elevator door as other officers cuff him and zip-tie his feet before hauling him away.
“Police officers have a tough job,” Taylor continued. “They have a very tough job and we thank them for their duties. But there are some bad apples out there — The bad apples? They need to be dealt with.”
According to local station CBS5, Scottsdale Police Dept. has confirmed it’ll be conducting the criminal investigation into Mesa PD and its arrest of Johnson. The agency has come under scrutiny in the past for officers’ use of force in previous incidents.
“Mr. Johnson did not put himself in this light,” Taylor said. “Mesa PD put him in this light. He didn’t ask to be the face of police brutality.
The four officers involved in Johnson’s arrest have been placed on paid administrative leave.
EXCLUSIVE: Robert Johnson tells me exactly what he feels following altercation with @MesaPD . Officer you see striking Johnson in the head says force was used because of Johnson’s “body language,” which suggested he was entering “fight” mode #Fox10Phoenix pic.twitter.com/sTTnVihsL5
— Stefania Okolie (@StefaniaOnABC13) June 6, 2018