Mesa officers at the center of use of force controversies will not be demoted or fired

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Mesa Police officers at the center of an excessive force investigation are now being disciplined for their actions.

About a year ago, video of a man getting beaten by officers went viral, and seven Mesa officers were put on leave while the incident was investigated. Now, most of the officers have been cleared of wrongdoing.

In May of last year, video of the officers handling Robert Johnson stirred up emotions, controversy, and an internal investigation.

"The officers should have been terminated," said Johnson's attorney, Benjamin Taylor.

Mesa Police Department's Professional Standards Bureau, however, does not agree. Three sergeants in the video were cleared. Officer Rudy Monarrez was given a Letter of Reprimand, and Lieutenant Timothy Wahlberg was given corrective action. Two officers are appealing their disciplinary consequences.

"We believe this is a very light punishment," said Taylor. "It's a slap on the wrist, and a slap on the face to Mr. Johnson."

In 2018, Mesa's police chief expressed his anger and frustration at the videos and the officers involved.

"That's not the training expectations I have for our officers, in a situation where somebody doesn't want to sit down," said Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista, at the time.

Mesa Police Association officials, however, say their training does allow officers to throw punches.

Nate Gafvert, in a phone interview, said the chief spoke too soon when he condemned the officers' actions, and the officers don't deserve a harsh punishment.

Meanwhile, two Mesa officers seen in a video showing the use of force incident that happened during the arrest of a 15-year-old suspect have also filed an appeal. They will get a hearing in the coming months, and use of force experts will be called to testify.

Ultimately, however, no officers will lose their jobs or get demoted.