Four police officers in Mesa, Arizona have been placed on leave after a disturbing video surfaced showing the officers brutally beating a black man identified as 33-year-old Robert Johnson on Wednesday, May 23. 

According to AZCentral, officers arrived at the scene at an apartment complex after receiving a call from a woman in distress. In the video that's been widely circulated online Johnson can be seen leaning against a railing while on his cell phone, and another man can be seen sitting on the floor around the corner. The officers, two of whom are black, can then be seen approaching Johnson, immediately patting him down. Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista confirmed to AZCentral that "no weapons were located" after Johnson was frisked. 

As Batista said in a narration to AZCentral, the officers then appeared to ask Johnson to move away from the railing to lean against the wall, to which Johnson can be seen complying. But when Johnson apparently did not get on the floor against the wall after officers allegedly instructed him to do so, the officers can be seen violently hitting and punching Johnson, making him collapse to the ground. 

After reviewing the footage, Batista told AZCentral that he believes the officers were not "at their best."

"I don't feel that our officers were at their best," he said. "I don't feel this situation needed to go the way that it went."

The four officers – three officers and a sergeant – have since been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates the incident, BuzzFeed reported

Batista told local Fox10 that he only learned about the incident after a community member submitted the surveillance video to him. 

"I didn't know anything about this, and the way I learned about this is because a member of the community sent me the video and said, 'hey, this looks very alarming, and I need you to look at it,'" he said. "I examined it, and I immediately opened up an investigation."

Johnson's attorneys Benjamin Taylor and Joel Robbins, and Andre Miller, a pastor at New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa, released the following statement, AZCentral reported:

"The misconduct of these officers would have gone unnoticed if it had not been captured by surveillance videos at the apartment complex where the assault occurred," the statement read. "We hope and pray that the Mesa Police Department will accept responsibility for the misconduct of these officers. Mesa must take concrete steps to ensure that culpable officers are disciplined, retrained, or dismissed. The Mesa Police Department must develop a law enforcement culture that meets community and constitutional norms and ensures that police and citizens go home safely after police interactions."

Batista told AZCentral that he has since moved to institute policy changes concerning use of police force. 

Update (August 28, 2018):

The Mesa Police Department asked nearby Scottsdale, Arizona's police department to review footage of the beating. That investigation has been completed, CNN reports, and the Scottsdale Police Department found "no criminal charges are warranted against the involved officers as the use of force was legally authorized and justified under Arizona state law."

Johnson's lawyer, Benjamin Taylor, rejected the department's findings, and suggested the report put out by Scottsdale was nothing more than another example of the blue wall of silence.

"The video flatly contradicts the self-serving accounts of the police officers involved," Taylor said. "The use of government violence against cooperating citizens, who have committed no crime and who pose no threat, is a crime without justification or legal authorization."

Johnson's beating is the third by Mesa officers this summer. Taylor has promised to continue fighting for justice on Johnson's behalf, and said he and his client will seek to put their case "before a civil jury."

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