Ex-Flagstaff officer defends his actions after punching woman

Posted at 2:56 PM, May 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 17:56:25-04

A former northern Arizona police officer is standing by his actions in an encounter that led to him pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault for punching a woman he was trying to arrest.

Jeffrey Bonar, who resigned last year from the Flagstaff Police Department, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months' probation for the November 2016 encounter with Marissa Morris.

Speaking to reporters outside his lawyer's office in Chandler on Thursday, Bonar said he does not believe his actions were "morally or legally wrong."

"I followed my training. I used the least amount of force necessary to effect an arrest and defend myself," Bonar said.

RELATED: Woman punched by Flagstaff cop says video is 'disturbing'; body camera footage released

A bystander captured the confrontation on a video that circulated widely. The encounter came about during an eviction when Bonar thought there was an active warrant for Morris' arrest.

Bonar was first indicted on felony aggravated assault charges last year. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in February after a new indictment was issued.

 In his agreement with prosecutors, the charge will be dismissed upon completion of the probation terms. He was also ordered to attend anger management counseling and to complete 80 hours of community service.

The video did not capture the entire encounter, including a struggle between the two that involved a hit to his groin, Bonar said.

 Bonar did what he was trained to do, said Marc Victor, his attorney.

"He delivered a disruption blow with exactly the amount of force that he was trained to use in this circumstance," Victor said. "Indeed, it did work. And he was able, with the help of another officer, to get her under control and make the arrest that he was entitled to make."

Benjamin Taylor, the attorney representing Morris, told The Arizona Republic that his client did nothing wrong. He said Bonar was given special treatment.