Maryland Police Officer Suspended After Assaulting Young Man

Authorities in Maryland have launched an investigation after video caught a Montgomery County police officer smashing a handcuffed man to the concrete. The video appears to show the plainclothes officer kneeing the 19-year-old man in the head as he’s on the ground.The Montgomery County Department of Police has suspended a police officer who was recorded allegedly slamming the 19-year-old into the sidewalk. Authorities identified the officer in the video as Kevin Moris of the 4th District Special Assignment Team.

Investigators were undercover when they were looking into a psilocybin mushroom dealer at a McDonald’s at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center on July 4, according to a police statement. Officers attempted to arrest 19-year-old Arnaldo Pesoa of Silver Springs, for the “attempted distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.”

Police said that Pesoa “became disorderly with the officers inside the restaurant and resisted the arrest.” After officers moved Pesoa from the restaurant, he continued to “act in a disorderly manner and resist arrest,” authorities said.Videos of the incident shows several officers struggling inside the fast food restaurant with the handcuffed suspect, Fox 5 DC reported. The officer holding Pesoa ordered him to “be cool” and “lay on your stomach and don’t move,” WUSA 9 reported.

A 45-second video on Twitter shows a plainclothes police officer, later identified as Moris, slamming Pesoa’s head into the concrete sidewalk with his knee. Pesoa is heard shouting in pain.Pesoa was taken to the Central Processing Unit and charged with one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, one count of attempt distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of second-degree assault. He was released after posting $5,000 bond, police said,following its preliminary investigation into Pesoa’s arrest, Moris was suspended and placed on administrative duties pending an investigation. Moris’ use of force will be investigated by the department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the findings will be referred to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. The internal investigation is ongoing.

“Using force is, unfortunately, a part of a police officer’s job, no matter whether it’s here or anywhere else,” MSPD spokesperson Capt. Tom Jordan told reporters on July 5. “What we have to determine is whether the amount of force used was reasonable. We have to determine whether it’s that or whether it’s excessive.”

“The Montgomery County Department of Police (MCPD) takes all complaints or evidence of excessive force seriously,” the department said in its statement. “We are committed to bringing the highest quality of policing to our communities and increasing the trust that’s in the communities,” Jordan added, according to Montgomery Community Media. “What we can commit to is doing a fair, full, and complete investigation.”Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro and Vice President Sidney Katz said they were “outraged and deeply saddened” by the video footage of the incident. The county officials said in a statement on July 5 that they appreciated the prompt response by acting police Chief Marcus Jones.County officials also asked Jones to appear before the council to brief members and to share “his strategies for community-police relations,” WTOP reported.

Council member Will Jawando said in a statement posted on Facebook that he was “alarmed and upset” after seeing the videos on Twitter. “It’s hard to imagine what circumstances would prompt the officer to use that level of force with a suspect who is already on the ground and restrained,” Jawando said,the council member, who advocates for legislation to create a citizen’s police review board, said that Jones told him the matter was referred to the state’s attorney’s office for review. Jawando added that he expects to get a “full briefing” from MCPD in the next week.

A preliminary hearing in Pesoa’s case was scheduled for August 2.Anyone who witnessed the arrest or anyone who may have more information about the incident are asked to call the Internal Affairs Division at 240-773-6000.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.