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Former Phoenix officer's appeal to rejoin the department denied

Posted at 10:49 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 00:49:29-05

PHOENIX — Former police officer Tim Baiardi made headlines a year ago after ABC15 revealed surveillance video taken inside a west valley Walmart, showing the 17-year officer, and union leader, slapping a handcuffed suspect.

WATCH: Store video shows Phoenix officer slap handcuffed man

The video led to an internal investigation.

Later, the Maricopa County Attorneys office filed felony charges against Baiardi for aggravated assault.

Baiardi was then fired from the Phoenix Police Department in August.

However, he hoped he'd have a chance at coming back, and appealed the decision made by Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams in October.

The Phoenix Civil Service board held a closed-door hearing that month to hear testimony from several witnesses, among them, Chief Williams, witnesses to the assault, and other Phoenix officers.

Thursday, the board tasked with making a final decision, met inside city council chambers.

“There’s principles and values and integrity, and that’s the piece that concerns me," said Magnum, a civil service board member. "Clearly, a gentleman was handcuffed and slapped, so I struggle with that because this would’ve gone unnoticed, undone unless this tape made available because it doesn’t look like the city had any concerns whatsoever.”

Board members say the city previously completed an internal investigation but took no action against Baiardi.

“ If that video hadn’t come up, none of this would be here," said Donna McHenry.

The board of five also discussed other concerns, including Baiardi's denial of the assault when questioned by a supervisor.

“ When that question was asked of me that you took that time to invoke your need to hide a representative or something to that extent," added McHenry.

The board dismissed members of the public from the room, for a closed-door, executive session, where board members later say Baiardi explained a motive for his aggression towards 22-year-old Roger Moran, the handcuffed suspect slapped by Officer Baiardi. Moran was arrested for attempting to steal several pairs of pants.

“I might’ve done the same thing," said board member Craig Steblay, "[If someone said he] was going to rape my wife, I’m gonna get mad, but it doesn’t justify it."

“I understand that it can be difficult," added Bruce Meyerson, Chairman of the Civil Service Board. "I guess I’m questioning whether or not that excuses what happened, I’m not sure.“

The board voted unanimously to uphold Baiardi's termination, despite a recommendation from a hearing officer for a 240-hour suspension in place of it.

Chief Jeri Williams released a statement following the board's decision:

“My decision to terminate Officer Tim Baiardi’s employment with the Phoenix Police Department and the reasons why still stand. I appreciate the Civil Service Board taking all facts of the situation into consideration and upholding the termination.”

ABC15 reached out to the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board for comment on the status of Baiardi's state certification. The organization opened a case after Baiardi was charged with aggravated assault.

"The Board has jurisdiction over a peace officer's certification regardless of whether or not they are currently appointed (employed as a peace officer)," said President Matt Giordano. "An officer's certification goes into inactive status when they separate from an agency and does not lapse for three years. The Board does not lose jurisdiction until the three-year window closes. In this case, the assigned compliance specialist is preparing the materials to present to the Board, and I would expect it to be on a board agenda in January or February."