Lawsuit against Mesa police says 2 officers beat, choked man as he urinated on himself
A 32-year-old man says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court that two Mesa police officers punched and kicked his face and, as he writhed in pain, he urinated on himself, during an incident a year ago.
Subsequently, prosecutors charged Christian Ivan Topete with two counts of aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest and unlawful imprisonment and assault, court records show. His trial is set for November.
The lawsuit, which was filed by attorney Nathaniel Preston in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, is the latest complaint of police brutality against the Mesa Police Department, which has been under scrutiny for its officers’ treatment of other people.
Detective Nik Rasheta, a spokesman for Mesa police, confirmed in an email that there is an “active internal investigation” underway and that police would not have additional comment before Wednesday.
Topete is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive and special damages, along with attorneys’ fees.
The lawsuit says the episode was captured on the officers’ on-body cameras. Preston referred The Arizona Republic to Mesa police for the footage. Rasheta said in an email that The Republic’s request for the videos “will be processed in the order that it was received.”
Mesa police respond to a report of a noisy dog and the situation quickly escalates into a shooting. Diana Payan, The Republic|azcentral.com
According to the lawsuit, the incident began when a neighbor called police to report that Topete and his 2-year-old son’s mother were arguing. The officers arrived at his apartment, near Broadway and Gilbert roads, at about 11:24 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2017.
The officers entered Topete’s apartment and, as he sat on his couch, the officers asked him to put his hands on his head, the lawsuit says. Topete asked why, and Officer Nathan Sund tried to force the man’s hand onto his head, the lawsuit says.
Without warning, the lawsuit says, Sund began to punch Topete in his face and body. Officer Kristen Johnson also began to punch and kick him, according to the lawsuit.
Johnson also used her baton to hit Topete, the lawsuit says, and the police video footage also shows her “driving her combat-style boots directly into” Topete’s face and nose as she yells, “F– k, yeah, b– h!”.
Among the injuries Topete suffered were a fractured nose, cuts to the lip, eye damage and bruised ribs, the lawsuit says.
” Blood immediately gushed from Christian’s fractured nose, spraying the defendant officers, as well as the apartment furniture and flooring,” the lawsuit says.
Sund then used a choke hold on Topete, which prevented the man from being able to breathe, causing him to pass out and urinate on himself, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says that, as Topete “lay crying in his own blood and urine, Defendant Officer Johnson yelled, ‘Don’t f —– g get up!’ “.
The lawsuit says that Topete’s son was asleep nearby.
Six-figure settlement for Schenectady police brutality case
SCHENECTADY– The city is reportedly discussing a payout of between $300,000 and $400,000 to settle a lawsuit filed last year by a woman who alleges she was brutalized by two Schenectady cops, according to several people familiar with the ongoing negotiations.
Plaintiff Nicola Cottone claims in the federal suit that then Lt. Mark McCracken, who formerly served as the city police department’s spokesman, and officer Andrew MacDonald slammed her head onto a bench at the police station in a September 2016 incident.
At the time of Cottone’s injury, the Schenectady woman’s hands were cuffed behind her back while she was held in a room that’s normally used for roll call.
Security cameras captured the incident, which was also witnessed by several officers in uniform as well as plainclothes detectives, according to footage reviewed by the Times Union earlier this year.
When she was picked up and slammed onto a station bench by the two officers, Cottone’s head was split open. She was then charged with a crime that portrayed her as the aggressor.
MacDonald was identified in court filings in 2016. McCracken, who showed other officers a photo of Cottone’s injuries, was not confirmed as a participant until March 2018, when records from the internal affairs investigation were filed in U.S. District Court as part of Cottone’s civil rights lawsuit.
McCracken was a finalist for police chief in 2016, though Eric Clifford ultimately won the post. McCracken was eventually suspended for his role in Cottone’s case.
Earlier this year, McCracken was and faced criminal charges demoted to patrolman after a dispute with his estranged wife at a local ice rink where their young son was playing hockey.
If McCracken could manage to stay out of trouble for six months, a judge said the charges would be dismissed.
On Tuesday, Cottone’s attorney Kevin Luibrand and City Attorney Carl Falotico declined comment.
On Monday, the proposed settlement was discussed behind closed doors in executive session by city leaders, and later voted out of the governing body’s claims committee.
The full panel is expected to vote on the settlement during Monday’s regular City Council gathering.