ROCKVILLE, MD- In a courthouse out of Rockville, Maryland, a jury handed a guilty verdict this week against a police officer that was charged earlier this year for an assault stemming from a viral video that made its way online that caused an uproarious clamoring of excessive force and police brutality.
The video showcased the officer dropping his knee into the back of a handcuffed suspect in response to the suspect spitting blood at the officer.
Kevin Moris, 32, will be sentenced on the second-degree assault misdemeanor charge at a later date.
In a decision that came after jurors had previously told a judge they were struggling to reach agreement; he was acquitted on a count of misconduct in office. As of Thursday, Moris was on paid leave with the Montgomery police.
Moris ‘ arrest of 19-year-old Arnaldo Pesoa on July 3rd was the culmination of an undercover drug operation that led police to Pesoa at a McDonald’s restaurant in the Aspen Hill area of the city.
He was taken into custody and subsequently pleaded guilty to trying to sell mushrooms containing psilocybin. It was during this arrest that was captured on video via bystanders showed the suspect lying on the ground handcuffed, and spitting blood toward Moris.
After spitting on the officer twice, Moris dropped a knee into Pesea’s back.
At the moment of the indictment, police chief Marcus Jones met the county’s top prosecutor State Attorney John McCarthy, to reveal proceedings against Moris within a week of the incident. During the announcement, Jones stated:
“The excessiveness of the officer, Officer Moris, actually slamming the individual’s head to the pavement – this gave me grave concern.”
Yet, under Maryland law, spitting on someone rises to meet the standard of second-degree assault. However, the assault charge was dropped against Pesoa; in fact, so was distribution and resisting arrest in the plea bargain. He was sentenced only to six months in jail.
Throughout closing arguments, prosecutors had deemed Pesoa’s violent detention illegal by Moris and motivated by indignation about the actions of Pesoa after failing to comply with instructions earlier in the confrontation.
Assistant State’s Attorney John Lalos told jurors:
“It was violent. It was unreasonable, and, ultimately, it was punitive. This was a tax, ladies and gentlemen. This was a tax for Arnaldo Pesoa’s misbehavior, noncompliance, language, disrespect – perceived or real.”
The lawyer of the officer, Morgan Leigh, had claimed that he was justified in using force as Pesoa had spat blood on him twice and threatened to do it again, increasing the officer’s anxiety about exposure to an infectious disease. Leigh explained to the jury:
“Spitting blood is a vile, dangerous assault that Kevin was exposed to twice before dropping his body weight down on Arnaldo Pesoa to stop the threat. A use of force is not pretty. A use of force is violent. It is violence to prevent and stop further violence. And officers have a duty to use force when necessary to protect themselves or others.”
That closing statement from Moris’ attorney had resonated with the jurors on Thursday, as they had initially reported to Judge Nelson Rupp that they were a hung jury. They had handed a note to the judge stating:
“We are at a stalemate. 6 to 6 became 8 to 4, but guilty isn’t budging not-guilty. Not-guilty isn’t convincing guilty.”
In response, the judge sent a note back to the jury saying they were ordered to eat lunch and continue deliberating; referring to the juror’s instructions describing the duty to deliberate.
Prior to the jury initially identifying as being in a stalemate, Rupp read instructions that relate to police officers on trial in use of force proceedings:
“A police officer is legally justified in using force if the police officer acted as a reasonable police officer,” he said.
He added that reasonableness account for having to make real-time decisions rather than applying “the twenty-twenty vision of hindsight. Police officers are often forced to make split second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.”
At around 5:30 PM on Thursday, hours after their lunch, the jury handed in a verdict of guilty toward Moris. The trial lasted a total of four days, where opening statements were given on Monday morning.
The prosecuting attorney was painting the officer’s acts as nothing more than felonious, when Aubin stated:
“A knee drop to [the] back of the head of an individual in cuffs, on his stomach, with several officers around, can be nothing but a criminal act.”
Aubin acknowledged in his statement that police did have a tough time with the suspect, so as not to come off as excusing Pesoa:
“Make no bones about it. He wasn’t the most compliant. It took them some time to get him out of the booth on the ground and place him in the cuffs. There’s a scuffle. Mr. Pesoa had a bloody lip as a result.”
While the notation was honest, the initial framing was intentional; Aubin wanted the jury to see this officer as a violent criminal instead of a cop.
Moris ‘ lawyer, Leigh, portrayed a different picture, one of an eight-year veteran police officer employing sufficient force to subdue a suspected drug dealer who resisted arrest while spitting blood at him, even while handcuffed:
“These officers are trained to assume that blood and saliva are infectious. They can contain HIV. They can contain hepatitis. Kevin had every right to defend himself against a potentially deadly threat by performing a defensive tactic known as a knee strike.”
Had the jury not been forced to come to a consensus by the judge, we may have had a very different outcome on our hands. The question is whether the assertiveness of the judge employing a dynamite charge to a hung jury was overreaching. Unless brought before an appeals court, that will likely never be examined.
This officer isn’t the first one to be attacked by a state.
The insanity of giving criminals more rights than our protectors has fully gone full-blown. For the first time ever within the United States, a police lieutenant is being indicted for a murder charge for taking down an active shooter.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
I assure you; you didn’t misread that: a cop is actually being charged for shooting and killing an armed suspect who had opened fire on police and citizens.
A police lieutenant that is based out of Blackwell, Oklahoma has just been indicted earlier this week for second-degree murder in the May 20 killing of a woman during a vehicle pursuit, in which shots were fired at the officers involved in the pursuit.
"This would be the first time in American history that a police officer or anybody was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter," said Jason Smith, president of the Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police.https://t.co/7Ja7lQhHjR
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) November 26, 2019
Supporters of Blackwell Police Lieutenant John Mitchell say the suspect was an active shooter, which reports associated with the incident substantiate. Of course, various other media outlets have described the deceased woman as a “road rage suspect.”
But if they want to argue, I suppose it does require quite a bit of rage to open fire at police.
Oklahoma City grand jurors concluded Lieutenant Mitchell acted without justifiable or excusable cause in the events that led up to the death of Micheal Ann Godsey and engaged in “imminently dangerous conduct” toward her as well.
If the lieutenant is convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison. Apparently, we’ve gotten to a point where police are no longer allowed to protect their lives and the lives of others.
Defense attorney for the lieutenant, Gary James, said that Mitchell acted lawfully to stop what any reasonable person would describe as an active threat.
James went on to say, “She shot at the police twice. She has shot at her mother twice. She has shot at a private citizen. We know she fired other rounds around town. And Mitchell gets in behind her. He took his AR-15 and he started shooting through the front windshield at her.”
I’m sure the outrage culture would have preferred if he only used his pepper spray in defense of his life. Godsey was found dead in the driver’s seat of the pickup she was driving during the incident, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in May.
Police say dispatch had received a call about an active shooter on May 20of this year who was going around town shooting. Then the active shooter allegedly began firing at the officers as well. A lot of gunfire was exchanged, and the woman was killed following a pursuit.
Upwards of 60 shots were reported, which is why some say he was indicted, but supporters disagree.
“This would be the first time in American history that a police officer, or anybody, was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter”-OK FOP President Jason Smith on the murder indictment of Blackwell Officer John Mitchell @KTULNews pic.twitter.com/l3aMcaGhhs
— Burt Mummolo (@MummoloNews) November 25, 2019
Sean Ingram, one of the many Mitchell supporters that have come out to speak logic to the surrounding nonsense, had this to offer regarding those who think shooting too many times at a suspect is somehow immoral when they’re a threat to others:
“To me, you return fire until the threat is neutralized, and you don’t know if it’s going to be one or one hundred. He is the most honorable person I know, and I will back him all the way.”
According to his attorney on the case, Mitchell had just completed training on how to deal with an active shooter and was cleared by an independent internal affairs review of the incident.
So why was this even presented to a grand jury of internal affairs cleared the shooting as without incident?
A bevy of Blackwell residents were astounded by the indictment. After the news broke locally, residents showed their support for the officer who is being wrongfully prosecuted for doing his job and protecting his community.
One support even sported a shirt donning a thin blue line flag and the words “Justice for John” emblazoned underneath the flag.
For the law enforcement community, the indictment has sent a chilling shockwave of concern, summed up by the state president of the fraternal order of police, Jason Smith.
“This would be the first time in American history that a police officer or anybody was charged with the crime of murder for shooting at an active shooter.”
“After learning of this indictment 6,000 FOP members around the state got up and were worried…that they would be unfairly judged.” -OK FOP President Jason Smith on the murder indictment of Blackwell officer John Mitchell @KTULNews pic.twitter.com/GOqy8REcmc
— Burt Mummolo (@MummoloNews) November 25, 2019
In today’s world, criminals are allowed to shoot at people, and those who we trust to protect us, are slowly losing the ability to shoot back.
It seems like as we “progress” as a nation, we’re putting criminals way ahead of our protectors.
And to that matter, criminals are seemingly even more of a priority than their victims.
A new series of criminal justice reforms due to take effect in January will fundamentally change how business is conducted in courts in New York.
One movement, to abolish cash bail, is one of the hallmarks of the law. Eliminating cash bail is supported by far-left New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The law would allow judges only three options for dealing with criminal defendants- release on own recognizance, supervised release or in more serious cases, incarceration pending trial.
This comes with its own set of problems. One can imagine that if a gang-banger drug dealer is arrested and charged with distribution of narcotics that would likely be considered a “minor” felony, subjecting said gang-banger to being released on own recognizance or supervised release. In liberal land New York, incarceration pending trial for a “low level” drug offense is not likely.
So, now we have a drug dealer who has been released onto the streets. He will now be able to locate and intimidate witnesses who might testify against him. If they’re lucky, it will only be intimidation and not something worse. Of course, based on another part of the law, they will know exactly who those witnesses are.
And while New York was spinning its wheels once again throwing down with criminals, a loophole in an existing state law was discovered.
The top prosecutor in Manhattan stated that because of a legal loophole in state law, someone who becomes voluntarily intoxicated is not considered to be “mentally incapacitated” for the purposes of giving consent, according to the Independent.
In a 2018 letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo written by District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., he wrote:
“But there is no difference between an intoxicated individual’s ability to consent to sexual acts when he or she was drugged, and an intoxicated individual’s ability to consent when he or she voluntarily drank alcohol or took narcotics.”
The letter was reviewed by the Washington Post.
Mr. Vance was pushing Cuomo for legislation to eradicate the requirement under state law that a victim’s intoxication was involuntary. He reasoned that a reasonable person should know whether or not a person was drunk, and therefore should not be shielded from prosecution.
Surprisingly, according to the Independent, most states only imply a lack of consent where the intoxication was involuntary, according to an article published in the Brooklyn Law Review in 2016.
As a basis for his argument, Mr. Vance cited a 2011 case involving two NYPD police officers who were arrested and subsequently acquitted of rape charges involving an intoxicated woman. Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Matta allegedly raped the woman after helping her while on patrol.
Prosecutors could not prove that the woman had not agreed to consensual sex with the officers because of existing law. Mr. Vance argued that the officers should have known that the woman was incapable of informed consent.
“If someone is drinking voluntarily and become excessively drunk, that’s not a green light for someone to sexually assault you,” Vance wrote. “No one should be able to assault you simply because you put yourself in a case where dangerous things might happen,” he said. As of September, Cuomo’s office had not responded to Vance’s letter.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!