Embattled Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista has resigned


MESA (AP) — Embattled Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista resigned Monday, five months after two police unions cast votes of no confidence in him.

The department has been under scrutiny in recent years for a high-profile murder trial and a pair of videotaped encounters involving its officers.

In a statement, city officials said Batista was leaving the department "to pursue personal interests and other professional opportunities," and an announcement about the selection of an interim police chief would be forthcoming.

Batista was Mesa's third police chief in nine years. He had been in charge since July 2017 after serving as assistant chief of the Tucson Police Department.

Batista, who has nearly 35 years of law enforcement experience, took over the Mesa Police Department during challenging times and "worked hard to connect with the community and provide expanded field training for our officers," City Manager Chris Brady said.

The beating of a 33-year-old man outside an apartment complex's elevator and the rough treatment of a teenager prompted Batista to hire an outside attorney to investigate excessive force allegations.

Seven Mesa officers ultimately were placed on administrative leave with pay — two in the teen's arrest and five in the other case.

In a separate case in 2017, a former Mesa police officer was acquitted of a murder charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Texas man at a hotel.

Both the Mesa Police Association and Mesa Fraternal Order of Police declared five months ago that Batista didn't have the support of most of the rank-and-file.

"Chief Batista's resignation marks the third leadership transition in less than a decade for our department," the Mesa Police Association said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the city council and city management to find a long-term chief who will serve our city well."