As seen on body cam footage, a police officer in Tempe, Arizona held a Black hotel employee at gunpoint and claimed the man met the suspect description–even though the officer had previously acknowledged that the suspect was a white gunman.
Authorities identified the officer as Ronald Kerzaya.
“Our initial review indicates that this incident was not handled in accordance with the professionalism and respectful behavior that we, and the public, have for our officers,” police said in a statement dated Wednesday.
According to their account, officers responded to a Hawthorn Suites. The manager told Kerzaya that a man pointed a gun at a hotel employee.
As seen on video, the officer repeatedly asked for the race of the suspect.
“Is he a white male? A black male? Come on!” he said, after apparently not getting the description. The officer apparently got an answer, then he said, “White male. He’s going to be wearing a black shirt, tan pants.”
The officer then stepped out of the hotel in a bid to find the suspect. He ran around the building, with his gun out, telling two other people to get out of the area.
Things escalated as a Black hotel employee stepped out a door, and the officer began to hold him at gunpoint.
“I work here,” said the man, later identified in an Arizona Republic interview as front desk worker Trevonyae Cumpian. He told Kerzaya he was keeping the door closed.
Tempe police Officer Ronald Kerzaya used a stun gun on a man holding his baby last year. He’s now accused of using excessive force against another unarmed Black barely man 15 months later. https://t.co/TPCjxUxsvQ via @azcentral
— Bree Burkitt (@breeburkitt) September 4, 2020
“I am responding to somebody with a firearm who matches your description,” Kerzaya said. He demanded to see Cumpian’s ID.
They argue. Cumpian, his hands up in the air, told the officer to put the gun down, and he denied wrongdoing.
“Where your supervisor at?” he said. “You’re going to shoot me? I’m going to be another person on the news?” He continued to deny wrongdoing.
“Get on your knees,” said Kerzaya. The officer told the man to “shut the [censored] up with that [censored].
He eventually let Cumpian go after verifying that the man worked there.
“Have a great afternoon,” Kerzaya said.
The officer also confronted two other Black men in the hotel.
The manager, who was white, called out the officer when they next saw one another. Cumpian was “clearly not [censored] white, he said.
The armed, white suspect was not found, police said.
The ground burned through Cumpian’s uniform on that 103 degree day, according to the Republic.
“What I’m scared of is someone is going to lose their life because of him in the near future,” he told the outlet about Kerzaya. “He’s going to kill someone.”
Kerzaya, who was described as white, Tasered an unarmed Black man who was holding a one-year-old baby in 2019. Police said his actions were within policy, but he had to take mandatory re-training.
He is currently in “an administrative role” after the hotel incident, police said.
“The Professional Standards Bureau is conducting an internal investigation into this incident to deconstruct the manner and behavior in which Officer Kerzaya responded to this call for service and appropriate action will be taken to correct any deficiencies,” they said.
[Screengrab via Tempe Police Department]
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