Man accused of punching officers speaks out

MESA, AZ - A man accused of punching two Mesa police officers spoke out in a jailhouse interview appearing confused and uncertain about what happened.

Mantangi Tai said he did not remember much about a fight with police last week outside a Mesa Circle K.

Police said Tai resisted arrest and punched officers when they tried to take him into custody.


During an interview Wednesday, not only did Tai have trouble recalling anything about the fight, but despite wearing handcuffs and a jail jumpsuit, he said he wasn't aware he was in jail.

"I'm not in jail. Am I in jail right now?" asked Tai.

Clinical psychologist Erin Nelson watched the interview and thinks Tai could be suffering from a mental illness caused by a brain disorder, drugs, or a head injury.

"When you see that sort of delay and distraction, one of the things you would start to hypotheses is - is there something else going on internally? Is he hearing voices, or having a visual hallucination that his attention is focused on at least for the interim?" said Nelson.

Nelson says Tai's apparent mental condition could be what led to this fight in the first place. Tai may have had a hard time understanding police who had to react to the situation not knowing anything about Tai.

"Certainly, a delay in response by somebody who is being given commands - that could start a path that leads to trouble," said Nelson.

When he was booked into jail, a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said doctors evaluated Tai and determined he did not need to be in a psych unit.

Instead, he's being held in the general population but kept alone in a jail cell and only allowed out one hour a day, partly because of his condition.

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