An Arizona police officer has been placed on administrative leave (read: paid vacation) after a video revealed him punching a woman in the face.
The seven-minute footage features the woman, Marrisa Morris, arguing with an officer that he could not arrest her.
“I know my laws,” she says. “You can’t arrest me until I know that I have a warrant.”
The officer keeps telling her to stop resisting and when she refuses to do so, punches her hard right in the face. After the incident, several witnesses can be heard yelling at an officer and voices in the background yells, “Marrisa! Hey, you can't hit a girl like that."
As the woman starts crying, the officer tells her to get on the ground or else she will be tased.
Off-camera, people watching the violent exchange are heard urging Morris, “Just let him arrest you, just let him arrest you.”
Morris keeps fighting until the moment the officer pushes her to the ground, handcuffs her and leads her into the squad car.
To rub salt to the wound, it appears the officer, who has been identified as Jeff Bonar, had no reason to arrest her but a previous warrant “which he believed was still valid,” according to Sgt. Cory Runge of the Flagstaff Police Department. He accosted her for this reasons and tried to detain her “while he verified whether the warrant was valid or not.”
The Flagstaff Chief of Police Kevin Treadway said Bonar also filed a report claiming he was kicked and kneed in the groin by Morris before he hit her. However, that part is not shown in the Facebook video and cannot be verified.
“I am as concerned with what is depicted in the video as I know many others are,” Treadway told reporters at a news conference Thursday. “I have heard your concerns, and the department is taking this incident very seriously.”
“So often in cases like these, there is a rush to judgment and a call for immediate action,” he said. “We owe Marissa, her family, the Flagstaff community, the officer and the department a full and complete investigation.”
“As your police chief, I would call to my community to have a little patience,” Treadway said. “We are taking this, again, very, very seriously. It will be a very in-depth investigation but that takes just a little bit of time.”
The incident happened at a time when there is heightened tension and lack of trust between the public and law enforcement agencies.
People swarmed to social media to protest the cop’s actions and to urge the police department to punish him. Some are also claiming if Morris were a black woman, Bonar would have had no qualms about killing her.
Damn these cops are frightening #JeffBonar if I hit a woman like that or just in general I'd be in prison. Scary what they get away with...— Rusty Shackleford (@EsKearl) November 17, 2016
Her head snapped back when he punched her #JeffBonar it took video footage, not his partners to bring this to light.— Rusty Shackleford (@EsKearl) November 17, 2016
Treadway said Bonar was placed on administrative leave and another department will conduct a criminal investigation into Bonar’s actions.