A Mesa man who claims he was beaten by several Mesa police officers while being arrested has filed a lawsuit against the department. Aaron Belander is serving a 30-month prison term for aggravated assault, but on Nov. 4 he filed a lawsuit in which he claims seven officers broke two of his ribs and nose during the Sept. 9, 2009, beating.
Caught on tape
The entire nighttime incident was captured on video, which was shot by a Mesa police helicopter hovering overhead. At the time, police learned Belander was free from jail while he awaited trial on a suspected home invasion in summer 2009. Police had been watching Belander's vehicle after they learned he may have a handgun, which is illegal for a convicted felon.
Traffic stop and chase
The infrared video shot from the helicopter shows Belander stop his pickup outside Highland High School in Gilbert. Two minutes later, he was surrounded by nine police vehicles.
A short time later, Belander could be seen fleeing from his pickup and police officers gave chase on foot. Belander later stopped and threw his hands up to surrender.
Seconds later, an officer shot Belander with a Taser, and he fell to the ground. In police reports, the officers claimed Belander refused to show his hands and reached for his waist. Once on the ground, Belander began fighting with officers, who admitted in their reports to kicking and wrestling with him.
Belander was hit with a Taser a second time before being placed in handcuffs.
Belander pleaded guilty to felony attempted aggravated assault for an unrelated incident on Sept. 3, 2009. In court documents, Belander's attorney, Geoffrey H. Fish, claims the attack left his client with a broken nose, two fractured ribs and "numerous contusions and lacerations."
The lawsuit accuses the officers of using excessive force, negligence, battery and violating Belander's constitutional rights.
Mesa police and city officials generally do not speaking on pending litigation. In May, Belander and his attorney offered to settle the incident with the city for $350,000.