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Phoenix officer in viral video accused of excessive force in 2018

Posted: 11:18 PM, Jun 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-20 08:35:59-04

PHOENIX — One of the officers at the center of the now-viral Phoenix police video is facing another accusation of excessive force in 2018.

The allegation also involves a young African-American man, who was pepper sprayed by Officer Christopher Meyer.

Phoenix Police concluded there was "no misconduct."

The man arrested, Dante Patterson, wants it looked at again though, especially after Officer Meyer was seen more than a year later using potentially questionable force towards a family accused of shoplifting, then driving away from an officer.

Patterson claims Officer Meyer used excessive force in his case and wrote down inaccurate statements in the police report.

The incident occurred on January 15, 2018, at Castles 'N' Coasters. Dante Patterson, 21-years-old at the time, was there with co-workers and their kids.

Officer Christopher Meyer was working his off-duty security job at the amusement park, but still wearing his Phoenix PD badge and patch.

"I was already being escorted out, and he just decided to pepper spray me," said Patterson.

The confrontation was a culmination of events.

It began when Patterson says some kids were messing with him on the bumper boats and he says he told them to "leave him the f*** alone."

The mother complained, and park employees told police they caught up with Patterson and asked him to leave, as he was walking out.

"We left because we are taking a smoke break then came back," said Patterson.

Patterson admits cursing at the kids was a mistake, but both he and his friend told officers they were never asked to leave.

After they re-entered the park, an employee spotted Patterson on a ride an hour later and told off-duty Officer Meyer that he re-entered the park after being asked to leave.

Officer Meyer was waiting for Patterson as he got off a ride and told him he needed to exit the park.

Meyer wrote that Patterson became angry and said the f-word, "every other word."

"I just was not saying 'Yes sir, no sir, sorry sir.' That’s what the real crime was. He was the one belligerent, aggressive," said Patterson.

Officer Meyer wrote in the report he started counting down to five, and that on two, Patterson finally started being escorted out of the park.

This is where the stories really diverge.

In the report, Meyer wrote that Patterson stopped walking once, turned around, and was told: "to continue walking."

He claims it happened a second time a short time later and that Patterson "postured with his fists clenched raised in front of him, in a fighting stance, squared off towards the officer."

Meyer goes on to state that Patterson took a step towards him, "placing him in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury." That is when Meyer says he used his pepper spray, "from approximately eight to ten feet away."

Officer Meyer admits he initially hit Patterson in the back with his "three seconds of pepper spray." So he "resprayed Patterson with OC spray for less than one second hitting him in the face."

Dante Patterson told ABC15 the reason his back was covered in pepper spray is that he never stopped walking, and only turned his head slightly to continue talking with Officer Meyer. He said he never clenched his fists or made any threatening moves or comments towards the officer. Patterson told this to multiple officers on the scene, and it is also documented in their narratives in the report.

His friend and witness to the entire incident backs up that story.

If reference to the "clenched fists and fighting stance," Patterson's friend told the court, "That did not happen at all. Dante had his hands down but open...no signs of him squaring up or provoking the officer to use force in any kind of way."

The friend, Miguel, also said: "I was watching [Officer Meyer] the whole time...What's worse is that even with Dante facing away from the pepper spray, the officer continued to keep spraying him." He continued, "the other officers kept asking me about what happened and how everything escalated. I kept repeating the same things over and over, but they kept looking for a specific connection to the arresting officer's story."

After the pepper spray, Meyer pulled out his taser and had the laser pointed on Patterson's back as he was on the ground, temporary blinded.

"I did not assault the police officer at all, and those are falsified statements," said Patterson.

"Did you ever clench your fists and take a fighting stance," asked ABC15's Zach Crenshaw.

"No, not at all...I'm not an aggressive dude, I walk away."

Once on the ground, officers found Patterson's loaded pistol.

"It was completely legal for me to carry, that's why he didn't catch a gun charge," he said.

Patterson also said he would never be foolish enough to try to fistfight an officer while carrying a firearm.

"Who would square up if they have their gun?"

Patterson was charged with multiple counts of disorderly conduct and aggravated assault on an officer (with minor to no injury). Months later it was pled down to a single misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, and Patterson was on probation.

Officer Christopher Meyer remained on the force. He again finds himself under investigation internally.

"I actually talked to him. He's a guy who's been on a long time. He has a good reputation, that's about all I know about him," said Britt London, President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

London said Meyer called PLEA this week.

"He said, 'I think I'm going to be investigated.' So he called the union," said London. "And our Professional Standards Bureau has yet to talk to him. We don't know his side of it."

ABC15 is still waiting to view Officer Meyer's full personnel file. We have filed a records request.

When Patterson saw Officer Meyer on the recent viral cell phone video, his first thought was, "I was not too surprised..."My main concern [was] I didn't want him to do this to anyone else. It looked like it happened."

Patterson said he tried to file a complaint with the Professional Standards Bureau twice, but both times they said the case had already been reviewed and closed. He told ABC15 he hopes all of Officer Meyer's old cases are reviewed.