Tempe police officer under investigation after holding Black man at gunpoint while searching for white suspect

A Tempe police officer is under investigation after holding a Black man at gunpoint while searching for a white suspect outside of a hotel on Aug. 29, officials say.

According to a report released by Tempe PD, Officer Ronald Kerzaya responded to Hawthorn Suites on 24th Street and Southern Avenue after the hotel manager reported a white man wearing a black shirt had pointed a gun at an employee. 

Body camera video shows Kerzaya stopped Trevon Cumpian, a Black man wearing a white-gray shirt who said he was a hotel employee, holding him at gunpoint until he confirmed that Cumpian worked there.

Footage shows the man insisting that he was a worker, with Kerzaya cutting him off, saying, "I am responding to a man with a firearm who matches your description."

"Are you going to shoot me?" Cumpian can be seen asking. "Am I ... another person on the news?"

Kerzaya responds with, "Shut the f--- up with that s---, get on your knees."

The officer ultimately did not find any armed suspects.

Tempe officials say the officer has been placed in an "administrative role" while the investigation continues.

"Our initial review indicates that this incident was not handled in accordance with the professionalism and respectful behavior that we, and the public, have for our officers," officials wrote.

Tempe Police Department Chief Sylvia Moir spoke with hotel employees about the incident due to its "concerning nature," according to the report.

"Our officers are provided thorough and progressive training and we expect them to remain calm and respectful even in chaotic and stressful situations," officials said. "We value accountability, dignity and respect, especially during interactions with the community."

Police confirmed that Kerzaya was involved in an incident where he tased an unarmed man holding a baby during a domestic violence call in 2019. He received de-escalation training afterward, officials said.

Body cam video shows man holding baby tased by Tempe Police during domestic violence call

Tempe Police responded to a family's claims that a father and young child were hurt after the man was tased by officers.

Tempe Officers Association speaks out

FOX 10 reached out to the Tempe Officers Association, which released a written statement.

While we do empathize with Mr. Cumpian, we believe this incident, examined in totality, had nothing to do with race.

The officer involved was responding to a call involving an armed suspect who already had committed an assault. In real time, the officer was receiving information from the property manager. That information indicated the next person to come through the door would be the suspect.

The officer reacted instinctually and based on that information. We don’t agree that he was motivated by skin color. With that said, we believe the incident should be investigated thoroughly and potentially used as a tool to reassess the department’s policies and procedures.

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