A police officer in Maryland is facing criminal charges after being filmed slamming a suspect’s neck into the sidewalk with his knee during an arrest.
Kevin Moris has been charged with second degree assault and misconduct in office over an incident that happened on July 3, 2019, during his arrest of Arnaldo Andres Pesoa, 19.
Moris had his police power suspended and was put on paid administrative leave on July 5, which remains in place, Ramon Korionoff, a public information officer for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office told ABC News.
The initial internal investigation into the incident has since been put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal case, Korionoff said.
John McCarthy, the state’s attorney for Montgomery County, held a news conference announcing the charges on Tuesday.
"Today is not a day to rejoice the prosecution of a police officer but rather to make a somber and sober decision to hold one accountable," McCarthy said Tuesday.
"The actions of this officer do not represent our county police, generally, nor do they show law enforcement at its finest moment. It is important to have continued bridges of trust to our community. Charging this officer with two counts is what is appropriate in this case," McCarthy said.
Second degree assault carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and there is no set sentence for misconduct in office, leaving the sentence to judge’s discretion, the state's attorney's office told ABC News.
Pesoa’s charging document details how an undercover police officer first interacted with Pesoa after seeing him post about psychedelic mushrooms on Snapchat, and that the undercover officer then arranged to buy mushrooms from Pesoa.
Moris was one of four officers who approached Pesoa in a McDonalds where he was allegedly set to sell the drugs to the undercover officer, according to the charging document. Moris told Pesoa that he was under arrest, and the criminal complaint details how Pesoa allegedly resisted, and was eventually placed in handcuffs.
What ensued outside the McDonald's was caught on video that was then posted on Twitter. While the charging document details that Moris and another officer “took Pesoa to the ground so that the search incident to arrest could take place there,” it does not describe how Moris pushed his knee on top of the back of Pesoa’s neck and later pulled Pesoa’s t-shirt over his face while Pesoa was shouting obscenities.
The criminal complaint states that Pesoa “spit onto Officer Moris’ right shoe and ankle area” before he was forced on the ground.
Pesoa was found to have marijuana and mushrooms on his person and he is now charged with two counts relating to possession with intent to distribute, one charge of resisting arrest and a charge of second degree assault.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to accurately identify Korionoff’s role at the State’s Attorney’s office.