PHOENIX — A Phoenix police officer and union leader who was caught on video slapping a handcuffed shoplifting suspect has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Phoenix police say Officer Tim Baiardi, a board member for the Phoenix Police Department's union known as PLEA, was working as security for a Walmart store off 52nd Avenue and Indian School Road in December 2018.
Video shows the officer and the suspect, Roger Moran, walk into the store's loss prevention room. Baiardi slaps Moran as soon as he sits down.
A second video shows the two struggle shortly after Moran is seen putting on a pair of brand new jeans from the store. Baiardi confronts Moran, moves his hands behind his back, and tries to place the suspect in handcuffs. Video shows Moran turn around and try to move his arms. The two then knock over clothing racks in the struggle, but the fight eventually continues out of frame.
The department opened a criminal investigation after it learned of the incident and placed Baiardi on leave. He was charged with aggravated assault a month later.
In the probable cause document, police wrote Baiardi "slapped [Roger] Moran across the left side of his face with considerable force" and when questioned by two supervisors "provided no justification for the strike."
Baiardi also denied slapping Moran and initially pleaded not guilty.
He will be sentenced in August for a crime that could have him spend up to six months behind bars.