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Phoenix officer involved viral video facing accusations of excessive force in 2018 incident

Posted: 9:24 AM, Jun 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-20 09:25:40-04
Phoenix officer involved viral video facing accusations of excessive force in 2018 incident

PHOENIX — One of the officers at the center of a now-viral Phoenix police video is now facing another accusation of excessive force stemming from a 2018 incident.

The allegation also involves a young African-American man, who was pepper sprayed by Officer Christopher Meyer.

Phoenix Police concluded there was "no misconduct."

The man arrested, Dante Patterson, wants the incident investigated further, after video showed Meyer using potentially questionable force towards a family accused of shoplifting, then driving away from an officer in May.

"I was not too surprised...My main concern [was] I didn't want him to do this to anyone else. It looked like it happened," Patterson said about the viral video.

Patterson claims Meyer used excessive force in his case and wrote down inaccurate statements in the police report.

The incident occurred on Jan. 15, 2018, at an amusement park in Phoenix. Patterson, then 21 years old, was there with co-workers and their kids.

Meyer was working an off-duty security job at the amusement park, but still wearing his Phoenix Police Department badge and patch.

"I was already being escorted out, and he just decided to pepper spray me," Patterson said.

The confrontation was a culmination of events.

It began when Patterson says some kids were messing with him on a bumper boats ride, and Patterson says he told the kids to "leave him the f*** alone."

A mother complained, and park employees told police they caught up with Patterson and asked him to leave as he was walking out of the park.

Patterson claims he exited the park to take a "smoke break" and planned on returning. Both he and friends say they were never told by park employees that they needed to leave the park.

An hour after returning to the park, a park employee spotted Patterson on a ride. The employee then told Meyer that Patterson had re-entered the park after being asked to leave.

Meyer approached Patterson as he got off a ride and told him he needed to exit the park.

In a police report, Meyer wrote that Patterson became angry, used the f-word and "every other word."

"I just was not saying, 'yes sir, no sir, sorry sir.' That’s what the real crime was. He was the one belligerent, aggressive," Patterson said.

Meyer wrote in the police report that he started counting down from five, and that when he reached two, Patterson began to leave.

From there, Patteron's and Meyer's stories diverge.

In his police report, Meyer claims Patterson twice stopped walking. The second time Patterson stopped, Meyer wrote that Patterson "postured with his fists clenched raised in front of him, in a fighting stance, squared off towards the officer."

Meyer goes on to state that Patterson took a step towards him, "placing him in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury." That is when Meyer says he used his pepper spray, "from approximately eight to ten feet away."

Meyer goes on to write that he hit Patterson in the back with his "three seconds of pepper spray." He then says he "resprayed Patterson with OC spray for less than one second, hitting him in the face."

Patterson told other officers are the scene that the reason his back was covered in pepper spray is because he never stopped walking away from Meyer. Patterson says he only slightly turned his head to continue talking to the officer, and claims he never clenched his fists or made any threatening moves toward Meyer.

Other officers documented Patterson's claims in their reports of the incident.

A friend of Patterson who witnessed the incident, Miguel, gave a similar account in court.

"In reference to the "clenched fists and fighting stance, that did not happen at all. Dante had his hands down but open...no signs of him squaring up or provoking the officer to use force in any kind of way," Miguel said in court.

"I was watching [Officer Meyer] the whole time...What's worse is that even with Dante facing away from the pepper spray, the officer continued to keep spraying him," Miguel said. "The other officers kept asking me about what happened and how everything escalated. I kept repeating the same things over and over, but they kept looking for a specific connection to the arresting officer's story."

After the pepper spray, Meyer pulled out his taser and had the laser pointed on Patterson's back as he was on the ground, temporary blinded.

Once on the ground, officers found Patterson's loaded pistol. Patterson said he was carrying the gun legally. He also said he would never be foolish enough to try to fistfight an officer while carrying a firearm.

"Who would square up if they have their gun?" Patterson said

Patterson was charged with multiple counts of disorderly conduct and aggravated assault on an officer (with minor to no injury). Patterson later reached a plea agreement to a single misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, and was placed on probation.

Patterson said he tried to file a complaint with the Professional Standards Bureau twice, but both times they said the case had already been reviewed and closed.

Meyer remained on the force. He's now the subject of an internal investigation.

"I actually talked to him. He's a guy who's been on a long time. He has a good reputation, that's about all I know about him," said Britt London, President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA).

London said Meyer called PLEA this week.

"He said, 'I think I'm going to be investigated.' So he called the union," London said. "And our Professional Standards Bureau has yet to talk to him. We don't know his side of it."

Scripps station KNXV in Phoenix has filed a records request for Meyer's full personnel file, but have not yet received any documents.

This story was originally published by Zach Crenshaw on KNXV in Phoenix.