Man Beaten By 5 Mesa Police Officers Files Federal Lawsuit

By Associated Press
Published: Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 10:02am
Updated: Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 10:03am

Robert Johnson
Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Robert Johnson speaks to the press in June 2018.

Lawyers for a black man shown on video being beaten by five Mesa police officers last year have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and three of the policemen.

Attorneys for Robert Johnson said Tuesday they are seeking a jury trial for their client and at least $2 million in compensation for the May 2018 incident.

The lawsuit filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix alleges excessive force, wrongful arrest, negligence, assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A Mesa spokesman said city officials would not comment on pending litigation.

The apartment complex video shows the police officers repeatedly punching the unarmed Johnson as he stood against a wall after he failed to follow their instructions to sit down.

A police report states Johnson was verbally defiant and confrontational, but his attorneys say there was no reason for officers to hit him.

Johnson, 35, had accompanied a friend who was picking up his belongings from his ex-girlfriend's apartment. Someone called 911 and alleged Johnson's friend had tried to force his way into the apartment and police confronted the men outside an elevator at the complex.

Lawyers for Johnson said the beating left their client with serious injuries, emotional distress and medical expenses.

Last August, Scottsdale police and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office cleared the Mesa officers of any criminal wrongdoing following an investigation.

Johnson's attorneys filed a $1.97 million notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — against Mesa last November. The city had 180 days to respond or settle the case.

"The Mesa police officers who assaulted Mr. Johnson were not prosecuted criminally, so we have to seek justice in a civil court," attorney Benjamin Taylor said Tuesday.

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