PHOENIX — A Phoenix police officer accused of slapping a handcuffed shoplifting suspect has been charged with aggravated assault.
ABC15 first broke the story in April, after watching surveillance video from inside the Walmart where 22-year-old Roger Moran was arrested.
Officer Tim Baiardi is seen in the December 2018 surveillance footage confronting Moran as he was trying to steal several pairs of pants from the store, located near 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. In the footage, Baiardi can be seen walking Moran into a back office, and slapping him with an open hand.
Watch the surveillance video of the incident below.
A probable cause statement says Baiardi "slapped [Roger] Moran across the left side of his face with considerable force."
Court documents also say Baiardi denied striking the suspect when questioned by two supervisors and "provided no justification for the strike."
In an April 19 statement from the police department, officials said a criminal investigation into the incident had been launched. The department had also recommended to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office that Baiardi be charged with aggravated assault.
"When the department became aware of the matter, a criminal investigation was immediately initiated. In addition, the officer was placed on administrative leave and assigned to his home pending the completion of the criminal and internal investigation processes," the department told ABC15 in April.
Chief Jeri Williams issued a statement about the charge on Wednesday afternoon, saying:
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.
Court paperwork stated that Baiardi was served with a summons to appear in court on June 13.
Baiardi's charges were filed Monday. Three days earlier the accused shoplifter, Roger Moran, agreed to plead guilty to shoplifting, a misdemeanor. The allegations of aggravated assault and resisting arrest against Moran were both dropped.
Baiardi has been with the Phoenix Police Department for more than a decade and most recently served as a member of the Phoenix Police Law Enforcement Association, the union which represents rank-and-file police officers.
ABC15 reached out to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board about Baiardi's charges. They say Phoenix police have not asked them to look into it- but say because of our reporting, they're opening an investigation on their own.
They say if Baiardi decides to take a deal on this charge, or if he's convicted, his certification will automatically be stripped away - meaning he can no longer be an officer anywhere in Arizona.
We reached out to PLEA for a comment on their chairman's new charges but never got a response.
When we asked County Attorney Bill Montgomery for comment on his office's decision, he said he couldn't comment on the case currently being prosecuted, but did say, "We take misconduct by any officer who is sworn to uphold the law very seriously. We ensure they are held to the same standard as everyone else who violates the law."
ABC15 was unable to reach Baiardi for comment.