MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A Mesa man claims two Mesa Police officers used excessive force when they arrested him for alleged jaywalking, and the confrontation in question was caught on camera, by an eyewitness.
Now, the video is stirring up controversy and a planned protest on Thursday.
The video was recorded on June 19 by a driver who happened to be in the area at the time. The man said he saw two officers beating a man on the sidewalk. The man who was allegedly assaulted is 35-year-old Jason Michael Barton.
Barton said he had just crossed the intersection at Main and Extension when suddenly, two officers pulled up beside him.
"They got out the car, ready to whoop some a--," said Barton. "They didn't give me no commands or nothing."
Jonathan Jimenez was paying close attention to the patrol car, because he thought the officers were going to pull him over.
"I saw one cop grab the man, drop him to the floor," said Jimenez. "The other cop run, give him a knee to the head, basically a ground and pound. They were just beating him up."
Barton said he was punched, kneed, and kicked all over his body. He said he was so scared, he urinated on himself during the incident.
"When I said I need some water, they tell me you're lucky you're alive," said Barton. "It's pretty much an indication I was thinking they were trying to kill me for jaywalking."
Barton and civil rights activists are now calling for the firing of the two officers. The stranger who recorded the entire incident left the original scene, but felt compelled to share his video.
" I dont hate the cops. I just believe in what's right, and what I saw that night was wrong," said Jimenez.
A "jaywalking protest" is planned for Thursday night, at the Mesa Police Department headquarters.
Mesa Police Responds
On Wednesday night, Mesa Police responded to the allegations by providing body camera video of the incident, along with the police report detailing what happened, according to the officers involved.
Officials said that cracking down on jaywalking was part of an initiative to prevent fatal pedestrian accidents, and that the suspect involved escalated the situation by running away from the officers.
"The force that they went after him with had nothing to do with jaywalking, it had to do with an individual running from a lawful detention" said Steve Berry with Mesa Police.
The video released by Mesa Police is heavily blurred, but a person who appears to be Barton can be seen running in one officer's camera footage. Barton claimed he was given no commands to stop, and in the video released by Mesa Police, there was no audio in the first 30 seconds, as it took the camera 30 seconds to buffer. Mesa Police can't confirm whether or not commands were given, because of lack of audio.
"It appears, again it appears, that he's motioning for him to have a seat at the railing." said Berry. "That's when the suspect turns and runs.
Another officer joined to detain Barton, and Barton was reportedly struck multiple times, before being subdued.
"They do some basic questioning at that point, our suspect says that the reason he had tried to run is that he had marijuana, and didn't want to get caught and go to jail," said Berry.
According to the police report, Barton tried to get rid of a bag of marijuana during the arrest, and also had a warrant out for his arrest. Mesa Police has opened an internal affairs investigation.