A Phoenix police officer is facing charges of aggravated assault after he reportedly struck a handcuffed theft suspect multiple times inside a store.
The Phoenix Police Department learned Wednesday that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a direct complaint with the court against Officer Timothy Francis Baiardi, which indicates the MCAO is moving forward with prosecution.
According to the Maricopa County Superior Court, Mr. Baiardi is being charged with aggravated assault. The charges were filed Monday, according to the direct complaint released by MCAO Wednesday afternoon.
Phoenix police Chief Jeri Williams issued a statement on the findings but limited her words due to the ongoing investigations.
“When I became aware of this incident I was shocked and appalled at the conduct of one of my officers,” she stated. “I immediately ordered a criminal investigation. In addition, the officer involved was placed on administrative leave and assigned to his home.”
The Phoenix Police Department is also moving forward with its own internal investigation.
“This type of activity will not be tolerated by me or the Phoenix Police Department and it will be dealt with accordingly, Ms. Williams stated. “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.”
The charges stem from an incident that occurred Dec. 8, 2018 at a store near 51st Avenue and Indian School Road.
Mr. Baiardi, 44, was working off-duty at the store when he encountered an alleged shoplifting in-progress. He then arrested Roger Moran, 22.
However, while Mr. Moran was handcuffed, Mr. Baiardi, a 17-year veteran with the department, reportedly struck the suspect. Phoenix police said in a statement that Mr. Baiardi delivered “2-3 knee strikes” and “4-5 closed fist strikes.” That was a correction from a probable cause statement for the suspect, which stated 23 and 45 knee and closed-fist strikes were delivered.
Mr. Baiardi reportedly denied striking the suspect and provided no reasoning for the strikes.
In February, the MCAO notified Phoenix police of possible criminal misconduct by Mr. Baiardi following video of the incident. The video reportedly showed Mr. Baiardi and the suspect fighting while the latter was being taken into custody.
Mr. Moran pleaded guilty to shoplifting on Friday. However, he still has two charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest listed against him. Sentencing is scheduled June 12, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court website.
It does not appear Mr. Baiardi will be booked into jail in light of the charges, although he is due in court June 13.