PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Phoenix police officer is being charged with aggravated assault after he was seen on video punching and slapping a shoplifting suspect while off duty at a Walmart store, police said.
Police said on Wednesday that prosecutors were moving forward with the case against Ofc. Timothy Baiardi.
Baiardi, who was working security at the megastore at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road, was seen on camera confronting 22-year-old Roger Moran on Dec. 8, 2018, after Moran took the tags off some new pants and put them on, police said.
Court documents say Moran resisted arrest, tried to escape and even grabbed Baiardi's testicles.
Baiardi then delivered two to three knee strikes to Moran's face, according to the police report.
Moran tried to escape again and that's when Baiardi punched Moran four to five times, police said.
A witness helped him take down Moran, but police said he "continued to resist arrest" and "reached for the officer's testicles again."
Baiardi punched Moran a few more times, police said. Moran was finally taken into custody.
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He was put in the loss prevention office at the store. That's where surveillance video shows Baiardi slapping Moran in the face and scolding him for grabbing his groin, police said. The slap was so strong Moran partially fell off the bench he was sitting on, court documents said.
Baiardi denied hitting Moran but Moran told officers during an interview and surveillance video "corroborates the incident occurred as Moran reported," according to court documents.
Baiardi has been with the Phoenix Police Department for 17 years. He was placed on administrative leave.
Moran's mug shot shows him with several cuts and scrapes to the face.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams released the following statement:
“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.”