PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A Phoenix police officer has been placed on leave and is under investigation for possible criminal misconduct after he was seen on video punching and slapping a shoplifting suspect at a Walmart store.

[WATCH: Phoenix police officer could face charges for slapping handcuffed shoplifting suspect]

The incident happened on Dec. 8, 2018, at the store near 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. Officer Timothy Baiardi was working off-duty security at the store.

Police say that on that day, security cameras zoomed in on 22-year-old Roger Moran as he allegedly tried to steal some pants. Police say Moran was seen taking tags off of new pants, taking off his personal pants, then putting on the new pants.

[VIDEO #1: Confrontation between officer and shoplifting suspect]

[VIDEO #2: Security video appears to show officer slapping suspect]

Officer Baiardi approached Moran, telling him that he had been seen allegedly trying to shoplift, according to the police report. The officer then tried to take Moran into custody.

According to the police report, "the officer grabbed both arms" of Moran, but that Moran "escaped while the officer was grabbing his handcuffs.

Officer Baiardi was able to gain control of Moran by pressing his face against his chest using both of his forearms, the police report said.

The report goes on to say that Moran then "reached out and grabbed the officer's testicles."

Officer Baiardi backed away from Moran, and then reportedly delivered two to three knee strikes to Moran's face. according to the police report.

The report continues on to say that Moran then "attempted to escape again."

That's when Officer Baiardi delivered four to five fist strikes to Moran, according to the police report.

A witness helped take Moran to the ground, but police say he "continued to resist arrest" and "reached for the officer's testicles again."

Officer Baiardi then struck Moran about two to three more times with a closed fist, according to the police report.

Finally, Moran was taken into custody. But police say he "continued to try to escape while handcuffed."

Police were able to get Moran into the loss prevention office at the store.

Surveillance video released shows what appears to be the officer slapping Moran in the face. According to the police report, Moran "was seated on a bench in the loss prevention office... and was struck on the left side of his face and the officer told him 'never do that again.'"

Officer Baiardi is 44 years old, and has been with the Phoenix Police Department for 17 years. He has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.

Moran's mug shot shows him with several cuts and scrapes to the face.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Tuesday that they are "reviewing the case for a charging decision." The recommended charge is aggravated assault.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association released the following statement about the incident:

"PLEA is aware of the allegations against Officer Tim Baiardi and, pending the outcome of the investigation, his duties as a member of PLEA’s Board of Trustees have been suspended. As is our practice, we will not comment on the specifics of the investigation. Throughout this process, PLEA will remain committed to its mission of promoting the positive role of the police profession and protecting the rights of its members. We would like to remind the public that police officers are entitled to due process and that they are entitled to the same presumption of innocence afforded to every citizen."


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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