Video footage shows Robert Johnson being surrounded by officers before being brutally beaten.
Screenshot: Arizona Republic

A Mesa, Ariz., judge has dropped the charges lobbed against a local man who was brutally beaten by cops as he was just standing and chilling with his cellphone.

According to the Arizona Republic, Mesa City Prosecutor John Belatti filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice the charges of disorderly conduct and hindering police that were brought against 35-year-old Robert Johnson. However, “without prejudice” still means that the case against Johnson can be refiled in court at a later date if authorities find cause.

In the motion, Belatti noted that the charges should be dropped “in the interest of justice.” The motion was granted by Municipal Judge Elizabeth P. Arriola on Thursday.

“We are pleased to hear the false and drummed-up charges against my client Mr. Johnson have been dropped,” said Benjamin Taylor, a lawyer representing Johnson.

Johnson’s beating at the hands of police caught the attention of the nation earlier this month, sparking outrage and scrutiny.

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In the surveillance footage that was released, Johnson can be seen minding his own business while on his cellphone before being circled and pummeled by the officers for no apparent reason.

The officers knock Johnson to the ground before ultimately handcuffing him and using a zip tie to secure his feet. Toward the end of the video, an officer can be seen using a white cloth to cover Johnson’s eyes before officers pick him up by his arms and feet and carry him away into an elevator.

According to a police report, an officer, identified only as R. Gambee, said that as officers escorted Johnson into the elevator, and it looked as if Johnson was going to spit at him. So Gambee said he shoved Johnson’s face into the corner of the elevator door and door frame before another officer wrapped a spit mask—or some other type of mesh cloth—around Johnson’s face.

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Johnson’s case also brought more scrutiny to the department, which has been roundly criticized for its officers’ use of force. As a result, Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista has called for multiple investigations into officers’ use of force, not only in Johnson’s case but in all instances in the past three years.