PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has filed a direct complaint with the court against a Phoenix police officer seen on surveillance video hitting a handcuffed shoplifting suspect, court documents show.
The Phoenix Police Department said it received word Wednesday that the attorney’s office is moving forward with prosecution after police recommended a felony charge of aggravated assault against 44-year-old Officer Timothy Baiardi.
The incident happened on Dec. 8, 2018 at a Walmart near 51st Avenue and Indian School Road, where Baiardi was working off duty.
According to the police report, Baiardi arrested 22-year-old Roger Moran in the men’s clothing area of the store on suspicion of shoplifting. Surveillance video from the store shows Moran taking off his own pants and putting on a pair of pants he took from a rack.
The suspect and officer are seen struggling as Baiardi tries to handcuff Moran.
According to a booking report, in the process of taking Moran into custody, Baiardi kneed the suspect two to three times and punched him four to five times.
After Moran was handcuffed, Baiardi escorted him to the loss prevention office and told Moran to sit down on a bench.
Once Moran did, Baiardi slapped Moran across the left side of his face, causing Moran to partially fall from the bench, the police report says. Police said Baiardi then got close to Moran’s face and scolded him for grabbing his groin during the arrest.
Phoenix police said Baiardi, who had been with the department for 17 years, was placed on administrative leave and assigned to his home after the incident pending a criminal investigation.
A release from Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams on Wednesday indicated that Baiardi was still on leave after the county attorney’s office filed the assault charge. Williams also said the Phoenix Police Department can move forward with its internal investigation now that a direct complaint has been filed.
Here is the full statement from Chief Williams:
“When I became aware of this incident I was shocked and appalled at the conduct of one of my officers. I immediately ordered a criminal investigation. In addition, the officer involved was placed on administrative leave and assigned to his home. I am not at liberty to discuss or answer questions about the specifics of the investigation. The criminal investigation was submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office requesting criminal prosecution and we received word today that they have filed a direct complaint to the court to move forward with prosecution. With this information, the Phoenix Police Department is now able to move forward with our internal investigation as well.
This type of activity will not be tolerated by me or the Phoenix Police Department and it will be dealt with accordingly. This adversely impacts our reputation, which we work diligently to uphold every day. Let me assure you that the actions of one officer are not indicative of the hardworking men and women who wear the Phoenix Police Department badge. We will continue to work to build and maintain a relationship of trust and accountability with our community.”