Flagstaff police Officer Jeff Bonar resigned on Tuesday after an independent investigation criticized his actions after he punched a woman in the face during an arrest. His resignation came after the police department recommended that he be terminated.
The Flagstaff police department received a copy of the Northern Arizona University Police Department’s investigation into the incident shortly after it was submitted to the Coconino County’s Attorney’s Office, reports CBS News.
The altercation took place on November 16 between Officer Bonar and Marisa Morris of Flagstaff. The altercation has been “scrutinized” for weeks now. The altercation was recorded and posted on Facebook. Shortly after the incident, Officer Bonar was placed on administrative leave.
Officer Bonar had arrived at Morris’s home to assist the Coconino County sheriff’s office serve an eviction notice. Morris ended up being arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and for resisting arrest. Bonar wrote in his report that he believed Morris had an outstanding warrant. He stated that while trying to arrest her she kicked him in the knees and groin numerous times. He added that his “strikes” were distraction blows, reports ABC News.
NAU Sgt. Michael O’Hagan conducted the investigation. He determined that the fist blows to Morris’ face was not necessary or reasonable. There were two other officers on scene at the altercation, Sgt. Bill Rackly and Deputy Joel Winchester with the Coconino Sheriff’s Office. Both officers stated that they did not observe Bonar assaulting Morris as he stated in his report.
O’Hagan defined Morris’ behavior as “defensive resistance” because she hid her hands and broke free from Bonar’s grip. He saw nothing in the video that supported Bonar’s claims that she acted aggressively. After being struck in the face Morris stands in “shock” with her mouth open. She does not retaliate.
Sgt. Rackly and Deputy Winchester described Bonar’s behavior as “frazzled.” Deputy Winchester reported that he arrived on the scene to assist with a “lock out” eviction. Winchester requested a Flagstaff officer just in case there was a problem. Bonar did not know what a “lock out” eviction was so it was explained to him on scene.
The officers had no issues with the eviction process, but then Bonar spotted Morris and said she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. Bonar spoke to Morris then grabbed her by the arm. Bonar told the other officers that Morris had a warrant, but she stated that she didn’t, USA Today reported.
Bonar grabbed Morris’ wrists and attempted to place them behind her back. Morris struggled to get free. Winchester reported that he saw Bonar pull out his stun gun. Morris saw the stun gun and stepped back and said, “Oh, no.”
Moments later Winchester stated that he saw Bonar’s fist contact Morris’ chin. Bonar punched Morris in the face twice. Bonar then put Morris in cuffs. Benjamin Taylor, Morris’ attorney says that Bonar caused his client physical and emotional harm. He added that the Flagstaff woman would be pursuing “justice.”
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Twitter