Mesa PD launches investigation into suspected police brutality video

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Blurry cell phone video shows a struggle between officers and a suspect, police said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Blurry cell phone video shows a struggle between officers and a suspect, police said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Mesa Police Department responded on Wednesday to claims that officers used excessive force while trying to apprehend a man who was spotted jaywalking.

Det. Steve Berry said that the department didn't find out about the accusations until the next day when a TV station called and asked them about it. He said it's too early to know if any wrongdoing took place.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Civil rights activist describes alleged police brutality as 'Jim Crow butt-kicking']

Blurry cell phone video of the confrontation that happened on June 19 was made public on Tuesday morning. It was released by local civil rights activist Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

[WATCH: Alleged police brutality by Mesa officers]

[WATCH: Video from slightly different angle]

Police said Jason Barton illegally crossed the street near Main Street and Extension Road. He ran off when officers tried to approach him, Berry said.

"And so simply when a person immediately turns and runs when you get out and say hello, does it rise to the level of suspicion? Absolutely," Berry said.

They caught up with him and all three went to the ground. Berry said officers repeatedly gave commands to Barton to stop struggling and to show them his hands.

[RAW VIDEO: Mesa PD holds press conference on police brutality allegations]

"We don't always know why someone has hands under their body, if they're simply resisting, if they have contraband, if they have a weapon, we don't know at that point," Berry said.

During the struggle, a bag of marijuana fell from Barton, Berry said. Barton allegedly tried to disperse the marijuana during the struggle.

Berry said officers hit the suspect multiple times include several knee strikes to Barton but claims it was because Barton was resisting arrest.

However, Maupin said officers were "repeatedly and viciously punching, kicking, and beating Barton after throwing him to the ground."

"The punishment for jaywalking is not a Jim Crow butt-kicking on the street," Maupin said. "There's no explanation for [the officers'] behavior. ... There's no narrative that's gonna fly here that the cell phone was a gun or a knife."

[RELATED: Who is the Rev. Jarrett Maupin?]

Eventually, the officers get Barton in handcuffs and he's taken to the police station. Barton had several scrapes and a bloody nose. One officer had a cut on his forehead but no one went to the hospital.

Barton insists he did nothing wrong.

"They [the officers] got out the car ready to whip some ass," he said in answer to a reporter's question about whether the police gave him any commands. "Right now, I'm surprised I'm not getting arrested for talking."

[WATCH: Entire news conference (Note: Contains some explicit language)]

Barton is being charged for allegedly having marijuana, drug paraphernalia, obstruction and resisting arrest. 

"This is not a jaywalking case," Berry said.

"This is a textbook case of police brutality,” Maupin said in a news release. “The excessive forces officers used for this alleged jaywalking offense is shocking and disgusting."

Berry said neither Barton nor the man who recorded the cell phone video, identified as Jonathan Jimenez, has contacted the Mesa Police Department about police brutality allegations. 

Maupin said he plans to hold a protest on Thursday night outside the headquarters of the Mesa Police Department. Maupin said he wants the officers fired.

"Their actions fly in the face of department training and, without question, violate policies and procedures for interacting with law-abiding and peaceful citizens," say Maupin. 

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