Pastor Andre Miller to preach on police brutality after video of Mesa officers beating man – AZCentral
Robert Johnson, 35, was beaten by a group of Mesa Police officers in May. He spoke publicly about the incident for the first time Thursday. Arizona Republic
Andre Miller, the pastor who sent the video showing officers beating a man to the ground to the Mesa Police Chief, will hold a Sunday sermon on police brutality.
While the video has sparked national debate as well as protests in Mesa, Miller, a pastor at New Beginnings Christian Church in Mesa, said he plans on preaching a message appealing to humanity on Sunday.
“Jesus speaks to hope and love, loving our fellow man,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, none of this is being done to vilify police officers. It’s being done to highlight a problem that disrupts the harmony of humanity.”
Video that showed Mesa officers punching and kneeingRobert Johnson was released by Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista after Miller made Batista aware of the incident.
The night of the incident, May 23, Johnson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and hindering police.
Responding to the firestorm over the officers’ actions captured on video, Batista changed the department’s use-of-force policy. On Wednesday, another man claimed abuse by Mesa officers. Terence Kirkpatrick said Mesa police officers used excessive force and called him the N-word during an incident last fall.
Mesa police officers will be prevented from striking suspects’ face, head and neck “unless there is active aggression being exhibited by an individual toward the officer,” the department said in a statement.
Andre Miller’s sermon was in response to last week’s outcry over the conduct of several Mesa police officers. Arizona Republic
The case has triggered scrutiny of the Mesa Police Department, which has faced backlash for its use of force in other high-profile episodes. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil-rights violation investigation against a former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in January 2016 and was later acquitted of murder.
Miller hopes that Batista’s prompt actions will be a catalyst for national change, as the public demands rogue officers be held accountable and an end to police brutality.
In body cam footage released by Mesa police on June 6, 2018, shows officers punching and kneeing Robert Johnson, who is unarmed. Arizona Republic
Pastor calls for police reform nationwide
“My hope is that the reforms that I’ll be pushing for and other community leaders will be pushing for will also be mimicked across the country,” Miller said. “I think that this could be a great precursor to changes in across the nation.”
Miller said that he was satisfied with Batista’s response once he was shown the video.
“When I first sent him the video, he jumped right into action, as far as investigating, and he changed a policy right then,” Miller said. “At this point, I’m satisfied with actions of the chief.”
Miller said he wants those who attend his service on Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the New Beginnings Christian Church near Main Street and Gilbert Road to leave feeling restored in spirit.
“It’s something as a pastor I have to speak to…my main goal is to make sure that people are encouraged, that they’re edified with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Republic reporter Uriel Garcia contributed to this article.