MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A news conference on the use of physical force incident involving Mesa Police officers took place Thursday afternoon.
The man who was seen on video being punched by Mesa Police officers, Robert Johnson, delivered a statement on the incident. He was also joined by his attorney, Benjamin Taylor.
"Mr. Johnson did not put himself in this light. The Mesa PD put himself in this light," said Taylor, prior to Johnson giving his statement. "He did not ask to be the face of police brutality, one of the faces of police brutality."
During the statement, Johnson struggled to hold back his emotions, and wrapped up his statement after some brief words.
"I don't want this to happen to no one in particular, in this system," said Johnson. "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."
According to Pastor Andre Miller, Mesa's Mayor has informed him that Scottsdale Police will be taking over the criminal aspect of the investigation, as well as other excessive force cases that the Mayor sees.
"Chief [Ramon] Batista assured us that it is his duty, his job, his assignment, his mandate to stamp out this type of behavior," said Pastor Miller, who went on to say this is not a race issue, but a police culture issue that has to change.
"It can happen to anyone of us when we have an encounter with the police, and it should not," said Pastor Miller.
Surveillance video of the incident, released on Tuesday, has drawn controversy, and on Tuesday, Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said a number of officers and a sergeant have been suspended, as a result.
Late Thursday afternoon, Mesa Police released the names of those placed on leave. They are identified as William Abbiatti, Ernesto Calderon, Robert Gambee, Jhonte Jones, and Rudy Monarrez. According to Nik Rasheta with Mesa Police, the release of names is standard protocol.
Bodycam video of the incident were released by Mesa Police on Wednesday.
"You see literally people hitting him multiple times, him sliding down the wall unconscious, and one last hit in the face. That is unacceptable," said attorney Joel Robbins, at the news conference. "This was a case where more words needed to be used and less fists."
In an interview with FOX 10's Stefania Okolie on Wednesday, Johnson said he felt "disrespected".
"How could you do this?" Johnson said. "That's all I could really say. How could you do it?"
In police paperwork, officers said Johnson would not comply with their commands to sit down, and the officer seen striking Johnson stated he used force, because Johnson's body language suggested he was going to "fight or flight mode".
"Some of the wording from one of the officers, it makes for a really good novel. It really does," said Pastor Miller. "The wording that he used, he says from his combat of training, he recognize the posturing that Mr. Johnson had -- now the posturing that he was instructed to go to the rail. He did he was instructed to: go to the wall. He did so. Then, this particular officer says with him going to the wall, he was positioning himself to take on several opponents. That makes no sense."
Bodycam video of the incident