FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – An Arizona police officer captured on video punching a woman in the face during her arrest has been placed on administrative leave while the Flagstaff police department investigates the officer’s actions, the department said Thursday.
Police Chief Kevin Treadway said his department is conducting an internal affairs investigation and asking the Northern Arizona University Police Department to conduct a criminal investigation.
“We are taking this very, very seriously,” he told reporters.
Treadway said the officer reported that Marissa Morris kicked him and kneed him in the groin before he hit her. She was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
The video shot from a home where Morris and her boyfriend were being evicted shows Bonar punching Morris. But the images taken from behind a railing show Morris and Bonar from the waist up and it is not clear from the footage whether she kicked or kneed the officer.
Treadway said Bonar was detaining the woman because he knew about warrants for Morris’ arrest, but police later determined the warrants stemming from DUI cases were no longer active.
Bonar “was thinking the warrants were still in place,” the police chief said.
Morris is heard on the video saying she that there was no warrant for her arrest, and a female bystander says, “she doesn’t have a warrant anymore.”
Treadway said he learned about the Wednesday afternoon incident after a police department employee saw a Facebook video of the incident taken by a bystander.
The video at one point shows Morris on a sidewalk with Bonar as he tells her she must cooperate so he can arrest her.
After Bonar punches Morris in the face, a male voice is heard saying, “You can’t hit a girl like that!”
Jimmy Sedillo, Morris’ boyfriend, told the Arizona Republic (https://goo.gl/OFjYqn ) the couple had received an eviction notice and that Wednesday was their deadline to leave.
Sedillo said his brother-in-law, Danny Paredes, took the video shared on Facebook.
“It was just shocking,” the Republic quoted Paredes as saying. “I pulled out my camera immediately.”
Morris appeared before a judge Thursday who ordered her released pending a Dec. 6 preliminary court hearing.
Morris has no telephone listed in her name and could not be reached to comment.
Sarah Erlinder, a Coconino County Public Defender’s Office attorney who is representing Morris in her pending DUI case, said she had no information about the new case and could not comment on Morris’ behalf.