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Arizona man says he was victim of "brutal assault" by Mesa officers

Brutality claim against Mesa officers

MESA, Ariz. -- Body camera videos show a Mesa police officer punching an unarmed suspect multiple times and another officer later mocking the man as he was lying in a pool of blood on a hospital floor. Police records and videos released this week show Jose Conde was punched and elbowed about four times while officers were trying to handcuff him after a January traffic stop.

Conde said at a press conference with his lawyer Thursday that he was the victim of a "brutal assault" at the hands of the police department, which is already under fire following a string of controversial incidents.

Police say Conde resisted arrest before officers found cocaine in his clothes. But defense attorney Bret Royle says the bodycam video he recently received indicates police reports in the case were "at minimum embellished if not falsified." He said the video does not show Conde resisting or trying to flee.

Warning: Disturbing content

Conde, a 23-year-old landscaper, says he was an unarmed passenger during the traffic stop when he was thrown into a wall, punched, Tasered, gouged in the eye and hit in the head with a flashlight. 

In one of the videos, Conde is seen bloody and on the ground at a hospital, reports CBS affiliate KPHO. An officer mocks him and other officers laugh.

"Be a man," an officer could be heard saying. "Man up."

Conde says it is unacceptable the officers involved haven't faced any discipline.    

"I had to have my ear sewn back on, and my head stapled back together," Conde said. "What happens to these guys? Nothing. They don't get charged with anything. They just go back to their jobs and possibly do this to other people, and that's not acceptable."

Mesa police said in a statement that it has not received a complaint nor has an internal investigation into Conde's arrest been opened.

The videos follow two recent use of force investigations into two separate arrests by Mesa police. Two Mesa officers were placed on administrative leave while they investigate the May 17 rough arrest of a teen armed robbery suspect, which came just days after a man claimed he was a victim of police brutality at a Mesa apartment complex. Four officers were placed on leave in that case.

Man at center of Arizona police beating video speaks

Royle said the officers involved in the other two incidents don't appear to be linked to his client's case, but he is concerned about culture within the police force.

Mesa police chief Ramon Batista said following the second incident last week he has asked an outside group to review his department's use-of-force incidents.

Batista recently took over a department already reeling from a string of complaints. An internal review is underway after Facebook photos went viral of bruises caused by a Mesa police officer on an 84-year-old grandmother.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil-rights violation investigation after video surfaced showing a Mesa police officer fatally shooting Daniel Shaver in January 2016. Shaver was unarmed, and the officer, Philip Brailsford, was later acquitted of murder and removed from the police force.

Conde said that he hopes his story will help promote change in the police department. Royle said Conde rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors before he received the video.

Royle said he's hoping to work with prosecutors to have aggravated assault, cocaine possession, and resisting arrest charges dropped against Conde. 

"My main focus is to exonerate my client and fight these charges," Royle said.

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