WATCH: Body-Cam Video Shows Mesa Police Takedown of 84-Year-Old Grandmother

Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista said he wants to meet with senior-care professionals to better understand the “unique needs” of older people after an 84-year-old woman was injured in an encounter with his officers.

The woman’s family said police initially told them the stroke survivor and grandmother had slipped. Newly-released body camera footage by the Mesa Police Department shows otherwise.

Video of the Valentine’s Day encounter released Wednesday shows an officer grabbing her by the arm and taking her down. Ashley Hahn, the woman’s granddaughter, created a Facebook post with photos showing the extent of her injuries, which included bruising to the woman’s arms and face.

Since Hahn created the post a week ago it has been shared more than 55,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, Romanucci & Blandin, a Chicago-based law firm, announced it was retained to represent the 84-year-old woman and will investigate the incident on her behalf.

“It is imperative that our police officers be trained in and recognize situations that call for appropriate de-escalation techniques where citizens are not a threat of bodily harm to police officers or others,” said Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer at the firm, in a statement.

“Mistreatment of Mesa’s residents from police officers, especially the elderly and those with disabilities, should never be tolerated.”

Batista said in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday that officers used force on the woman to keep her out of harm’s way. He also said he has called for an internal investigation of the incident.

“Please know that I understand why this situation was alarming. It’s critically important that our department symbolizes trust and faith, and that our residents know officers will do our very best, no matter the circumstances,” Batista said in the post. “We all have a mother and a grandmother who we love very much; their safety and well-being are always a priority.

Officers arrived at the woman’s house after a 911 call from her daughter, who said she received a text stating her son had a gun and was sitting in a black car in her mother’s driveway. He had just gone through a breakup, she said.

“This is at least the third or fourth time he’s done this,” she said.

During the call, the woman told the operator to inform police that her mother was elderly, very fragile and sick.

“She just had a stroke, but she can come to the door if they need her,” the woman said. “She just doesn’t want this. She doesn’t want the police involved, and she can’t be stressed out like this.”

The 911 operator said officers were notified that they would be dealing with a sick and elderly woman when they arrived at the residence near Gilbert and McKellips roads.

Footage from an officer’s body camera showed police arriving at the home and using a loudspeaker to ask the reportedly suicidal man to come outside. After several attempts to communicate with the man, it was the grandmother who stepped outside.

Virginia, whose last name is not being published at the family’s request, citing her vulnerable state, initially followed commands to come toward them, police said.

Once outside, Virginia attempted to speak with officers from her driveway, but an officer told her they would not leave until she walked over to them and spoke with them.

Virginia’s words weren’t audible in parts of the blurred video. Several sections of audio were redacted, as well.

Eventually, Virginia made her way over to officers. Once she was behind a police vehicle, an officer grabbed her by the arm and walked her a few steps further from the house. After a few steps, Virginia and the officer stopped, and she asked what the officer was doing.

Video shows her pulling away from the officer slightly before being wrestled down to the asphalt in the middle of the street and handcuffed.

Meanwhile, officers continued to initiate contact with her grandson.

“We have been told that you are suicidal with a weapon, and we are here to help you,” an officer said over the loudspeaker.

As officers brought Virginia to her feet, she said, “I cannot believe you did what you did.”

Police questioned her about her grandson, while she asked them repeatedly, “Why did you do this?”

Virginia told officers that her grandson did not have a gun, although police said they located a BB gun inside the house during a subsequent search.

She can be heard asking officers several times if they could remove the handcuffs, but the officers said they were unable to do so.

“I don’t want to have a heart attack out here,” Virginia replied.

In addition to posting the chief’s statement on Facebook, the Mesa Police Department also posted the body-cam video.

“The officers attempted to persuade her to step to a safer area so they could attempt to resolve the issue with the occupant inside the house, however; she then attempted to walk back to the house,” Batista said. “This prompted them to detain her behind a patrol car and during that process, she was taken to the ground.”

Batista said police have been in contact with Virginia and her family, and that he will personally meet with professionals in the community who specialize in senior care “to better understand their unique needs and how to enhance our training protocols.

“We are a continually learning organization and this will give us an opportunity to reassess our practices and make any changes necessary to improve the quality of service,” Batista said in the statement.

Source: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/2018/02/22/body-cam-video-mesa-police-takedown-84-year-old-grandmother/363454002/

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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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