Man beaten by 5 Mesa Police officers in 2018 files federal lawsuit

PHOENIX (AP) -- Lawyers for a black man shown on video being beaten by five Mesa police officers last year have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and three of the policemen.

Attorneys for 35-year-old Robert Johnson are seeking a jury trial and at least $2 million in compensation for the May 2018 incident.

"The Mesa Police Officers who assaulted Mr. Johnson were not prosecuted criminally, so we have to seek justice in a civil court," wrote attorney Benjamin Taylor, in an e-mail sent to FOX 10.

The suit alleges excessive force, wrongful arrest, negligence, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A call to Mesa's attorney for comment wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

In a roughly one-minute video of the incident, Johnson was seen standing on a ledge, and towards the end of the video, multiple punches were thrown before Johnson was wrestled to the floor. A police report states Johnson was verbally defiant and confrontational, but his attorneys say there was no reason for officers to hit him. Charges against Johnson were eventually dropped by prosecutors.

At the time the incident began to surface, Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said he didn't know anything about it for a week.

"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,'" said Chief Batista. "I examined it, and I immediately opened up an investigation."

"I don't want this to happen to no one in particular, in this system," said Johnson, during a news conference on the incident that was held in June 2018. "I'm a family man. I'm a god-fearing person. I want Mesa to be held accountable for what they have done. Just basically the distress, hurt and everything that is going on at the time."

At the time, Chief Batista said a number of officers and a sergeant have been suspended, as a result of the incident. However, in late April, it was revealed that none of the officers involved in the incident will be fired or demoted. An officer, however, was given a Letter of Reprimand, and a lieutenant was given corrective action.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.