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Tempe police officer receives disciplinary action following controversial stop

The Tempe Police Department said a controversial officer will stay on the job following a settlement that is set to cost taxpayers $300,000.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe Police Department said a controversial officer will stay on the job following a settlement that is set to cost taxpayers $300,000.

In August, Officer Ronald Kerzaya was placed under investigation after he held Hawthorn Suites hotel employee, Tre Cumpian, at gunpoint while he was instructed to go after a suspect that didn’t match this employee’s description. 

Kerzaya was called to the hotel to look for an armed white man, but stopped Cumpian instead, even though he is Black and was in uniform. After the internal investigation, he was found to be in violation of policy.

Cumpian was not available for comment on Thursday, but said in September, “I kept saying I work here. All I could think about was my daughter, my family. I thought I was going to die.”

“We just sincerely apologize that this situation even occurred because it shouldn’t have,” said Tempe Interim Police Chief Jeff Glover on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Tempe City Council approved a $300,000 settlement for Cumpian. Glover says Kerzaya will go on an unpaid suspension for two weeks and will be on desk duty for at least a year.

“He’s going to have to prove himself in order to get back out on the street,” says Glover.

12 News obtained Kerzaya’s personnel file. He was hired by Tempe police in 2017. His latest evaluation from 2019 lists a number of red flags, saying he ”violated pursuit policy” and needed to “continue to build proficiency in firearms and defense tactics.” 

That same year, Kerzaya completed mandated training after an incident, where he used a stun gun on an unarmed Black man, Ivaughn Oakry, as he held a baby. Oakry is suing the city for this incident.

Glover says Kerzaya’s supervisor Sgt. W. Ameiss will be suspended for not putting everything into account when determining Kerzaya’s ability to respond.

 “If there were some issues with this officer that he knew about before he went on the street that should’ve been dealt with and addressed,” said Glover. 

Going forward, Glover says policies will be reinforced to shift the culture of the police department. 

Also a community review board will evaluate the incident along with a third party organization. Both will give recommendations on policy and training.