No charges filed against Mesa Police officers seen in viral use of force video

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (KSAZ/AP) -- Scottsdale police officials say no criminal charges are warranted against Mesa police officers, whose use of force during an arrest three months ago "was legally authorized and justified" under state law.

Video showed Mesa police officers punching 33-year-old Robert Johnson as he stood against an apartment complex's wall on May 23. A police report says Johnson was "verbally defiant and confrontational," but his attorneys say there was no reason for officers to attack him.

In an interview with FOX 10's Matt Rodewald back in June, Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said he didn't know about the incident for a week, and said he learned it from a member of the community.

"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," read a joint statement issued by Pastor Andre Miller, along with attorneys Benjamin Taylor and Joel Robbins.

"How could you do this?" Johnson said, in an interview with FOX 10's Stefania Okolie back in June. "That's all I could really say. How could you do it?"

Scottsdale Police officials released a statement on the investigation Monday afternoon, about three months after the incident took place.

In the statement, officials say they were asked by Mesa Police to conduct an independent criminal investigation of the incident. Investigators reached their decision after reviewing eight body camera videos plus the apartment complex surveillance video, and interviewed 15 people. Based on the investigation, they determined that no criminal charges are warranted against the involved officers, a finding that officials say the Maricopa County Attorney's Office concurs with.

Mesa Police officials, meanwhile, say the officers involved remain on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the department's internal investigation.

Will Biascoechea, president of the Mesa Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement on the findings.

"We're very relieved, but not surprised at all," said Nate Gafvert, President of the Mesa Police Association. "We've looked at this investigation front to back. We've watched the videos, we've had our subject matter expert review it, and we knew pretty early on that our officers acted within policy, and responded to that force exactly how they were trained to respond."

Taylor also issued a brief statement Monday afternoon on the findings, calling it a "sad day" for the people of Arizona.

"When officers can get away with assaulting citizens, people in our community will lose trust in them and our justice system," a part of the statement reads. "The whole world saw the beating Mr. Johnson took at the hands of these Mesa Police Officers."

"You have a video of this, and Scottsdale Police did a horrible job in this in investigation," said Taylor, in an interview with FOX 10's Matt Rodewald Monday "There's no excuse."

"To even think that our apartment does not discipline or will file charges against one of our own is ridiculous," said Gafvert. "We've done it, we continue to hold our officers accountable."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.