PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A homeowner is asking for answers from the Phoenix Police Department after she recorded two Phoenix police officers striking a man at a homeless encampment in an alleyway on Tuesday.

The incident happened near 16th Street and Jefferson Street. Her boyfriend heard someone yelling for help from the alley. When he ran outside, he saw the officers punching someone under a tarp.

"He filmed it and he thought he heard a Taser. He ran back inside to get me. I ran back into the alley, confronted the officers," said Geneva Patterson. "Essentially, what I saw was a person being treated cruelly, and yeah, I felt it was important to speak out on it."

Patterson said the video to Democrat Rep. Diego Rodriguez of Legislative District 27.

"Quite frankly, she was concerned and reached out to me because she wanted to bring this matter to the attention of officials who can do something about it in terms of getting an explanation for what she had seen," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez tweeted the video, tagging both the mayor and Phoenix police, asking for transparency.

"Immediately, I wanted to know what was going on," Rodriguez said. "What you can tell from the video--and it is taken from a distance--but what you can tell is there is a person laying on the ground and there is at least one officer on top of that person or above that person. You can clearly see the officer's arm being raised above his body and then coming down to the person several times. What really disturbed me is that we couldn't see that person on the ground moving or doing anything at that time."

Phoenix police said they were called to the area for a suspicious person in the alleyway. When they go there, they identified the man at the encampment as 28-year-old Derick Cornfield, who they learned had active felony and misdemeanor warrants for his arrest.

"Cornfield resisted the arrest and kicked the officers, which resulted in officers using strikes and a Taser in an effort to arrest him," Phoenix police said.

"I don't imagine that any behavior would warrant that level of aggression, especially for a person who was just trying to stay safe. He was doing nothing in the back alley there," Patterson said.

Phoenix police also said in their statement that while the officers' body-worn cameras captured the initial contact with Cornfield, their cameras were knocked off both officers during the struggle.

Geneva Patterson

"He was doing nothing in the back alley there," Patterson said.

"Quite frankly, it raises more questions than it answers because I want to know now, what kind of equipment are we using so it can't handle normal duty wear and tear?" Rodriguez said. "It's all about transparency and accountability. No one wants to second guess what officers are doing."

Phoenix police later added that the cameras kept recording once they fell. Footage from the body cameras has not been released.

"What de-escalation steps were taken? How was the initial contact made? It would confirm what the officers are saying if there was an assault that was committed on the officers," Rodriguez said.

Cornfield was taken into custody on outstanding warrants, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault.


Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you