Maricopa Prosecutor says Torture was Reasonable: Cops Put Foot on the Back of Native American Teen’s Head, Used Neck Pressure Hold & Pulled Handcuffed Arms Behind his Back & Toward his Head

From [HERE] and [HERE] Two Mesa police officers are not expected to face any charges related to an excessive force investigation involving a 15-year-old robbery suspect, according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. 

On May 17, police were called to investigate an armed robbery and found a 15-year-old suspect on scene. The teen was arrested and charged with multiple counts including armed robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. 

The case was one of two use-of-force episodes that Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista sent to Scottsdale police to investigate. Batista sought the review to determine whether officers used excessive force when they arrested the teen. 

In a statement, the county attorney said Scottsdale's investigation "focused on potential charges of aggravated assault" because the officers squeezed under the boy's jaw [otherwise known as your neck] while he was in handcuffs. The torture technique is called mandibular angle pressure [see photo below]. Apparently, a range of lesser offenses such as simple assault were not considered. 

Police had responded to a report of someone with a gun threatening a bystander at a Circle K store on May 16.

The county attorney said, "there is no reasonable likelihood of securing a conviction for Aggravated Assault under these facts and circumstances."

Officers approach and put the suspect in handcuffs. One of the officers can be seen placing a foot behind the suspect's head while he is on the ground. The officer notes in the police report the boot was there to "keep him from getting up."

Mandibular angle pressure hold [ MORE ]

Mandibular angle pressure hold [MORE]

As police pull the suspect up and take him to a squad car, one officer can be seen in the video grabbing and holding the suspect by what the police report describes as a pressure point behind his ear.

The teenager is pushed against the squad car and repeatedly says, "I'm just trying to get home to my grandma." An officer again appears to hold the suspect by the pressure point near his ear while searching for a gun. The teenager begins screaming in apparent pain, continually denying he has a gun.

In the report, an officer said he "applied pressure to (the suspect's) mandibular angle pressure point below his left ear" to keep him from moving around.

In the footage, officers pull the teenager's handcuffed arms behind his back and toward his head, and he reacts in pain to the torture technique. [MORE] He is screaming in pain during the arrest. 

After reviewing body camera footage, Scottsdale police launched an investigation. Two of the Mesa officers involved were put on administrative leave.

The findings from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office were released Friday and show they believe there is not enough evidence to lead to a conviction given the leeway the law gives officers when making arrests.

"The totality of the circumstances reveals that the force applied occurred as a result of efforts to affect the arrest of the suspect and to facilitate a search for a weapon used in the armed robbery of a nearby convenience store.

The suspect’s interview confirmed he continued to move while officers sought to secure him and search him for the missing weapon. Arizona law permits the use of reasonable force to effect an arrest. Therefore, there is no reasonable likelihood of securing a conviction for Aggravated Assault under these facts and circumstances." [MORE]

The report specifically states that it does not confirm whether or not the amount of force used is appropriate by Mesa police standards. MCAO says they will forward their findings to Mesa police for any further review.

Officers with the Mesa Police Department are still facing several different use of force allegations in other cases. Among those, an 84-year-old woman is suing the department and two officers claiming officers caused serious bruising and injuries to her face.

In another case, charges were dropped against a man who claims police used excessive force on him during an arrest in Mesa. Robert Johnson appears to be leaning against a wall while being questioned by officers and is then punched several times in the face before he fell to the ground and was taken into custody. Internal reviews of the officers involved in both of those cases are still ongoing.