A Maryland police officer who was caught on video violently forcing a teenager’s head into a concrete sidewalk during an arrest has been charged with assault, the state’s attorney’s office said on Tuesday.
Officer Kevin Moris, 31, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office for allegedly assaulting 19-year-old Arlando Pesoa during an arrest outside a McDonald’s on July 3, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at a Tuesday press conference.
The incident, which was captured in a 45-second video posted on Twitter, shows Moris driving his knee into the screaming teenager, before slamming his head into the concrete.
“It is absolutely fundamental that we foster a partnership between the police and our community,” McCarthy said Tuesday, calling the alleged assault “troubling.” “If a police officer acts improperly in Montgomery County, they will be held accountable.”
The altercation outside the McDonald’s began when police approached Pesoa as part of an undercover operation into alleged sales of psilocybin mushrooms. Officers had previously identified Pesoa as a suspect after he allegedly sold mushrooms to an undercover agent at the fast-food restaurant, which is inside the Aspen Hill Shopping Center, and tried to arrest him.
“Pesoa became disorderly with the officers inside the restaurant and resisted the arrest,” police said in a statement last week. “Officers eventually removed Pesoa from the restaurant. While outside the restaurant, Pesoa continued to act in a disorderly manner and resist arrest.”
In the video, Moris can be seen leaning over Pesoa, whose arms are lifted, and using his right hand to grab the teenager’s hair while pushing his shin into the back of Pesoa’s neck. The video then shows the teenager’s head being slammed to the cement.
“You’re on my fucking head,” Pesoa yells while the group of officers talk among themselves.
At one point in the video, the teenager says, “I just spit on your fucking shoe.” Another officer then pulls his shirt over his head.
According to court documents, Pesoa was spitting saliva and blood during the altercation and Moris shoved him to the ground to “minimize officers exposure to Pesoa’s bodily fluids.”
McCarthy said that after the struggle, police searched Pesoa and recovered the suspected drugs.
“What I see is officers who have made an arrest and are struggling with the subject, and then I see the officer do some extracurricular activities as a result of the use of force. So with that piece of it gives me some pause and something that we seriously need to take a look at,” Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones said on Tuesday.
Pesoa was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, attempted distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, resisting arrest, and second-degree assault. Moris, according to police, has since been suspended and placed on administrative duties while the department completes an internal investigation.