TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A Tempe police officer is being investigated after authorities say he held a Black man at gunpoint while searching for a white suspect, department officials said.
While responding to a report of a man with a gun at a hotel Saturday, Officer Ronald Kerzaya reportedly was told by the manager that the suspect was a white man wearing a black T-shirt and tan pants, KTVK-TV reported.
As he was searching for the suspect, Kerzaya found a Black hotel employee exiting the building wearing a light grey shirt and black pants. The employee identified himself, but Kerzaya held the man at gunpoint “until he could confirm that he was an employee of the hotel,” the police department said in a statement.
The police department released body camera footage of Kerzaya holding the man at gunpoint for three minutes while the officer confirmed that the man was a hotel employee. The employee was released and the suspect was never found.
Kerzaya is heard in the video telling the employee, “I am responding to somebody with a firearm who matches your description.” Kerzaya also is heard on the video two minutes earlier confirming with the hotel manager that the suspect was white.
“This incident was not handled in accordance with the professionalism and respectful behavior that we, and the public, have for our officers,” the department said in a statement.
Kerzaya has been assigned to an administration role while the department investigates.
Kerzaya had another complaint against him in June 2019 when he used a Taser on a man who was holding a 1-year-old child in response to a domestic violence call, the television station reported.
Tempe Police Detective Greg Bacon told The Associated Press on Friday that the Aug. 29 incident is under investigation and that Kerzaya does not have any additional use of force complaints against him aside from these two in his nearly four years with the department.