No charges against 2 Phoenix officers in October excessive force incident

  • In US
  • 2023-01-30 21:07:39Z
  • By AZCentral | The Arizona Republic
A Phoenix police car.
A Phoenix police car.  

County prosecutors will not charge two Phoenix police officers accused of applying excessive force while detaining a suspect during an incident caught on video in October, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Monday.

On the night of Oct. 27, two Phoenix police officers were leaving a QuikTrip near 59th Avenue and Buckeye Road in a marked patrol car when a man approached them and tried to "talk to them about an incident," according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

The officers told the Phoenix man, later identified as 39-year-old Harry Denman, that they needed to respond to another call and began to drive away. Police said Denman then pulled out a handgun and fired two shots, one striking the car's driver-side spotlight and piercing the driver's side at head level, while the other bullet hit the ground.

Armed with a rifle and a handgun, Phoenix Police officers Eddie Becerra and Nicholas Beck entered the QuikTrip to arrest Denman.

Denman was kneeling on the store floor with his hands above his head when officers pushed him to the ground, both hitting him with their weapons and Officer Becerra kicking him, according to MCAO documents.

A video, which police say was filmed on a cell phone by a store clerk, was shared on Oct. 29 on Facebook. The explicit two-minute, 28-second video was shared by the department and showed much of the same content that was in the body camera footage it released on Oct. 27.

The cell phone video captures Denman lowering himself onto the ground as an officer aimed a rifle at him and proceeds to kick his head against the tiled floor. Immediately after, another officer approaches Denman, who is writhing on the ground, and stomps his head, cell phone video shows.

The beating is partially captured on the bodycam footage and can be seen at closer range.

For the public:Phoenix police release edited bodycam footage showing officers beating shooting suspect

The cell phone video shows the man then crying, "Oh God, please," as blood spatter is visible on the floor near his head as the officer with the rifle rests his leg on him.

"I'll blow your f---ing head off, dude," the officer with the rifle is heard saying on the cell phone video to the restrained man, shortly after adding, "F--- you, dude. Don't f---ing shoot at us."

The same can be heard in a portion of one of the two bodycam videos shared by police.

"After being placed in handcuffs, Becerra kicked the man and aggressively pulled him off the ground," states the case report from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Denman was treated for his injuries at the hospital before being taken to jail, police said. The department said both officers were uninjured.

Previously:Phoenix police recommends criminal charges against 2 officers seen beating man in video

He was later booked into jail and charged with multiple felonies: two counts of aggravated assault, discharging a firearm within city limits, discharging a firearm in a nonresidence, resisting arrest, risking physical injury, criminal damage, defacing and dangerous drug possession.

Denman was in possession of what was thought to be methamphetamine, according to charging documents.

Following this incident, the Phoenix Police Department submitted the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to determine whether the two officers used excessive force while taking the defendant into custody.

"Police officers must be held to a high standard of excellence and when we fall short, must be held accountable. I have confidence in the legal process and will allow it to play out in an unbiased manner," Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan said when the referral was announced.

"What is depicted in the video is not how we train and is not aligned with the core values of the Phoenix Police Department," Sullivan said in a statement shortly after the cell phone video was shared on social media.

After a careful review of all the facts and evidence in the case, the MCAO determined that the actions taken byOfficer Becerra warranted a criminal charge, prosecutors said in a statement.

They presented the case to a Maricopa County Grand Jury on Jan. 26. The presentation included body-worn camera footage, surveillance video provided by the convenience store, and a cell phone video from the store employee, MCAO said.

Grand jurors returned a No True Bill, meaning there is no probable cause to decide that a crime has been committed.

The MCAO determined there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction for Officer Beck and deemed that his conduct did not seek a grand jury indictment.

Reach breaking news reporter Ellie Willard at or on Twitter @EllieWillardAZ.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: No charges to be filed against Phoenix officers in excessive force incident


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