Raw video: Interview with suspect in Mesa police incident

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by Crystal Cruz

azfamily.com

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 5 at 5:13 PM

Poll:
Do you think police used excessive force during this arrest?

MESA, Ariz. --  A YouTube video showing a fight between a police officer and a civilian that was posted by a witness on Saturday is going viral.

The video shows a Mesa police officer in a scuffle with Matangi Tai outside of a Circle K on McKellips Road and Center Street last Thursday.

Tai was said to be trespassing after he asked store employees for his prescription even though the convenience store isn't a pharmacy.
 
When the officer arrived, he asked Tai to sit down but Tai refused. The video shows the situation escalates to a full-on fight.
 
Meanwhile, an off-duty officer saw the brawl and when he tried pulling over ran into another car crashing his SUV.
 
No one was hurt in the accident.
 
Bystander Kameron Babbitt was filming the incident on his cell phone.
 
When the off-duty officer showed up, he quickly subdued Tai, punching him while the initial officer tazed the suspect.
 
A security guard tried assisting and was thrown to the ground during the fight.
 
Babbitt accused the officers of using excessive force on the suspect.
 
Sgt.  Anthony Landato with Mesa Police said excessive force was not used.
 
Instead Landato said the situation was dangerous because the officer was on the ground, unable to reach his own gun, Taser and radio.
 
Landato said Tai was grabbing for the gun, punching the officers in the face, giving them a reason to subdue Tai in the manner they did.
 
This incident did not escalate to the level that would call for the officers to be on paid administrative leave.
 
Tai remained in custody Monday night. He was arrested in 2012 for assaulting an officer.

 

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