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FBI assessing possible civil rights violations by Mesa cops

August 30, 2018

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — The FBI has notified Mesa police that they are assessing possible civil rights violations in the alleged use of force by officers during two arrests, including one captured on widely circulated video.

One of the incidents is the beating of an unarmed black man as he stood against an apartment complex’s wall on May 23.

Apartment surveillance video shows several police officers repeatedly punching 33-year-old Robert Johnson after he failed to follow their instructions to sit down.

Scottdale police were asked to conduct an independent criminal investigation of the incident and announced Monday that investigators determined “the use of force was legally authorized and justified” under state law and the Mesa police officers shouldn’t face criminal charges.

“We are glad that the FBI is stepping in to investigate,” Benjamin Taylor, one of Johnson’s lawyers, said in a statement.

Mesa police also announced the FBI also is looking at the 2017 arrest of Gabriel Mark Ramirez Jr., but details weren’t immediately available.

In March, Mesa police records were subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department in a civil rights investigation involving a former Mesa police officer who was acquitted last year in the fatal 2016 shooting of an unarmed Texas man at a hotel.

The FBI also still is reviewing possible civil rights violations in last September’s fatal shooting of 28-year-old Scott Farnsworth, who allegedly pointed a gun at several Mesa police officers.

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