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Tempe to settle for $300,000 with hotel worker held at gunpoint by police

The Tempe City Council voted to approve a $300,000 settlement for a Black hotel worker who was held at gunpoint by police when they were looking for a white suspect.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe City Council voted Wednesday to approve a $300,000 settlement for Trevonyae Cumpian, a hotel worker who was held at gunpoint by police in August.

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.

In a news conference in September, Cumpian was joined by 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 earlier this year.

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 Tempe City Council voted 7-0 to approve the settlement.

The Tempe Police Department told 12 News that Kerzaya is still employed with the department, but he will not return as a patrol officer for at least one year. 

Kerzaya will remain in an administrative role for at least one year and has begun serving a two-week unpaid suspension.