Tempe, AZ, pays $ 300,000 to settle allegations that the police officer held an unarmed black lodge worker at gunpoint
After receiving reports of a Caucasian rifleman near a Tempe hotel, officer Ronald Kerzaya drew a gun on a black hotel worker, told him he agreed with the suspect’s description and brought him to his knees.
Tempe City Council is paying $ 300,000 to settle allegations that one of the Arizona City Police officers held a black hotel employee at gunpoint while searching for a white suspect on the property.
The official behind the incident – Ronald Kerzaya – has now been “disciplined”.
Kerzaya responded to a call from an armed man at the Hawthorn Suites Hotel on August 29, according to KTAR News. When he called Tempe Police, the hotel manager told Kerzaya that the suspect was a white man.
When Kerzaya reached Hawthorn, he came across Trevonyae Cumpian.
Cumpian worked at the hotel and even had ID with him. However, Kerzaya decided to hold the man at gunpoint until he could verify his position with the hotel manager.
Bodycam footage of the incident shows Kerzaya, who claims Cumpian “fulfilled” the description of the suspect he was pursuing. When Cumpian asked if he was going to be shot, Kerzaya broke into a torrent of explosives and told him to “shut up about that shit” and get on his knees.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Police Cars; Image courtesy of James via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
Kerzaya publicly apologized for the incident shortly thereafter.
“I understand that my actions have caused tremendous agony for many different people, and I cannot convey enough of my remorse for my actions and the consequences that have forced so many people to grapple with them and continue to do so to do day, ”wrote Kerzaya in a disciplinary report.
Kerzaya, KTAR says, has been suspended for two weeks without pay and will not be allowed to patrol for at least a year.
Tempe’s interim police chief Jeff Glover released a press release saying he did not believe Kerzaya’s behavior was warranted.
“My determination to discipline Officer Kerzaya’s case does not excuse his behavior, which was unacceptable and disheartening,” said Glover. “We have to address this behavior. We also need to take responsibility and make the changes that will help keep this from happening again. “
However, Cumpian’s first lawsuit alleged that Kerzaya had used unnecessary force against unarmed black men in the past.
Cumpian’s attorney – noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump – found in September that Kerzaya’s encounter with his client was actually the second time in recent months that the officer was accused of reacting in a disproportionate and inexcusable manner to an unarmed black man.
And despite the Tempe Police Department apology, Crump noted that law enforcement officers were unwilling to cooperate with the trial by initially refusing to provide Kerzaya’s ID number and later only identifying him by his middle name, Aaron.
When Kerzaya’s identity was established, Crump realized that Kerzaya was the subject of another multi-million dollar excessive violence lawsuit. In this case, Kerzaya had used a taser on an unarmed man with a baby.
“After the lid on his efforts to bury Kerzaya’s wrongdoing was blown, the Tempe police leadership was forced to turn to public recognition,” said Cumpian’s legal team.
The $ 300,000 settlement is well below the $ 2.5 million compensation payment originally requested by Cumpian.
Benjamin Crump, a hotel worker held at gunpoint by the police, is looking for $ 2.5 million
Tempe agrees to pay a $ 300,000 settlement to a black man who is held at gunpoint by the officer
Tempe City Council approved a settlement with a black man who was held at gunpoint by a police officer
The Tempe officer violated guidelines in a hotel incident and will not act as a patrol officer for at least a year