Suspect Juan Carlos Arizmendi claims police used too much force during arrest

MESA, AZ - Mesa police are speaking out against claims of police brutality after a couple of their officers were caught on cell phone video allegedly beating a suspect.

Video posted to YouTube shows a man being held on the ground by at least two officers when another officer begins punching him in the head.


Police officials say they are investigating the use of force from Thursday's arrest of 40-year-old Juan Carlos Arizmendi, but added there's more to this story than what the amateur video shows.

Mesa police Det. Steve Berry told reporters at a Friday press conference that Arizmendi faces charges of kidnapping, assault and resisting arrest for the situation that actually began on Wednesday afternoon.

Berry said Arizmendi and an accomplice tried to cash a forged check in Mesa around 3:30 p.m.

When police arrived to arrest him, Arizmendi ran into a nearby business where he barricaded himself.

At one point Arizmendi called 911 and told the operator, "I'm being surrounded by cops and I got a bomb. Tell them don't come in and don't send the dogs. I'm going to burn this place down and I'm going to die with it."

He also claimed to have a male hostage.

Police were able to take Arizmendi into custody with the help of a police K9. The suspect suffered bite wounds during the arrest and was taken to Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa.

Berry said Arizmendi was able to escape from the hospital around 5:40 a.m. on Thursday.

An attempt-to-locate bulletin was issued at 5:50am for Arizmendi and detectives began conducting surveillance of the car used in the check forging crime in an attempt to locate him.

Berry said Arizmendi located his accomplice and one other person from the check cashing crime and then kidnapped them using a flare gun.

"It had been painted black to look like a real handgun, it was loaded, it did have a live cartridge in it," Berry said. "He was holding it at the victim if you will, forcing him to drive to this unknown location in Phoenix."

The kidnapped driver and passenger later told police Arizmendi was trying to locate a person he felt was responsible for his arrest on Wednesday.

Officers spotted the car on Main Street in Mesa with three people inside.

Arizmendi was identified and detectives made a traffic stop on the vehicle in Tempe near 48th Street and Broadway Road.

Police ordered the three out of the car but the front seat passenger, identified as Arizmendi, leaned over to the driver and yelled "go-go."

Dustin Fairchild caught what happened next on his cell phone.

"I was driving down Broadway heading to work. As I pulled up to the intersection there was a cop in front of me and he kept stopping and going then he turned on his lights," Fairchild said.

Fairchild told ABC15 he thought it was an accident at first then realized it was something more and started recording on his cell phone.

"They (police) started breaking into the car and they had it boxed in. They pulled him (Arizmendi) out of the car and it seemed like they had him detained," Fairchild said.

Fairchild sounds stunned in the video as he rolls on what happened next.

"It looked like he had his hand behind his knee then the guy (officer) on the other side started hitting him. I'm not sure why," Fairchild said.

Detectives said Arizmendi had been "tased two times" but was not subdued.

"He doesn't get a good hit and by that I mean, one of the probes hit but the other it doesn't really stick, so you don't get the full effect of the taser," Det. Berry explained.

And while the video shows several officers around the suspect, Berry said he still wasn't subdued.

"It's pretty clear in the video, although the officers aren't losing, they aren't winning either," said Berry.

Police said Arizmendi continued to resist arrest by refusing to put his hands behind his back.

"Law enforcement can be a difficult business and we do hit people on occasion. We hit them to stop the aggressive action and to get those hands back and get them detained," admits Berry.

Arizmendi was eventually handcuffed.

Drugs were found in the car and in the driver's pocket, according to police. A loaded flare gun was also found in the vehicle.

Arizmendi was again taken to the hospital where he was interviewed. He reportedly admitted to detectives that "he was not fully compliant with officers' commands, but stated that the officers used too much force when apprehending him."

After telling Fairchild the Mesa Police Department's side of the story, Fairchild said it made a difference.

"It does change my perspective a little, but it's a tough call and it's a tough judgment call especially for police. I still feel, though, it was a bit excessive," Fairchild said.

According to the police report, Arizmendi was found to be a convicted felon, with several felony arrests or convictions out of California, most recently in 2007. He also admitted to serving prison time in California.

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