Arizona officer holds Black man at gunpoint while searching for white suspect

Arizona officer holds Black man at gunpoint while searching for white suspect
FILE PHOTO: A Tempe police officer is under investigation after he held a Black man at gunpoint while pursuing a white suspect, officials said. (Tempe Police Department/Tempe Police Department)

TEMPE, Ariz. — An Arizona police officer is under investigation after he held a Black man at gunpoint while pursuing a white suspect, officials said.

Tempe Police Officer Ronald Kerzaya responded to a report of a man with a gun at a hotel Aug. 29 and was told by a manager that a white man in a black T-shirt and tan pants had run out a west exit, KTVK-TV reported.

Kerzaya searches the building and runs into a Black hotel employee wearing a gray shirt and black pants. The man knelt, held his hands in the air and identified himself as a hotel employee as Kerzaya pointed a gun at him.

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Kerzaya held him at gunpoint for nearly 3 minutes as he verified the man worked there. The man was confirmed to be a hotel employee and was released. The suspect was never found.

There is body-cam footage of the incident.

“I am responding to somebody with a firearm who matches your description,” Kerzaya tells the man.

Two minutes earlier Kerzaya is heard confirming with the hotel manager that the suspect is 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 was assigned administrative duty while the department investigates.

Kerzaya has another complaint against him from a June 2019 incident where he used a stun gun on a man holding a 1-year-old during a domestic violence call.

Other than these two incidents, Kerzaya, who has been with the department four years, does not have any use of force complaints.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.