PHOENIX — Activists and community organizers are calling for a Tempe police officer who held a Black hotel employee at gunpoint while he was supposed to be looking for a white suspect to be fired.
The employee, Tre Cumpian, joined Benjamin Crump, a well-known attorney who also represents the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery -- three Black people who were shot and killed -- for a news conference in Tempe on Wednesday.
The press conference was held to "address the blatant disregard Tempe PD and officer Kerzaya have for Black lives," the group said in a statement.
Cumpian filed a $2.5 million claim against the city of Tempe over the incident. The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.
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Tempe Police Officer Ronald Kerzaya was seen on body-worn camera video holding Cumpian at gunpoint for more than two minutes.
Kerzaya was among the officers who were responding to a call on Aug. 29 of a suspect who allegedly held a gun to a Hawthorn Suites hotel employee.
Kerzaya listened to the manager's description of the suspect, which included that he was a Caucasian male wearing a black shirt and white pants, police said.
The manager, who was looking at surveillance video, told Kerzaya he believed the suspect would be going through a certain exit outside. The body-camera video showed the officer going out to that door with his gun drawn.
The door opened and an African-American male, who identified himself as an employee named Tre, stepped outside.
Kerzaya held the man at gunpoint until he could prove that he worked there, Tempe Police Department said. That ended up being more than two minutes.
The suspect was never found.
Kerzaya was also involved in the controversial tasing of a Black man last year, a department spokesperson acknowledged.