Montgomery Co. officials ‘outraged,’ ‘saddened’ by video of police arrest

A file photo of a Montgomery County police car. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro and Vice President Sidney Katz said they were “outraged and deeply saddened” by the cellphone video of a man being arrested earlier this week by Montgomery County police at an Aspen Hill, Maryland, McDonald’s.

The videos posted on social media show a man on the ground surrounded by a group of officers. At one point, an officer appears to knee the man in the head while he’s on the ground, and other officers try to restrain him.

Two observers can be heard on video telling police not to punch the man and to “stop hitting him.”

Police identified the officer involved on Friday as Officer III Kevin Moris, of the 4th District Special Assignment Team, and they said he has been assigned to administrative duties pending investigation. Moris’ police powers have also been suspended. 

“The Montgomery County Department of Police takes any complaints or evidence of excessive force seriously,” police said Friday. They urged any witnesses to contact them at (240) 773-6000.

A police spokesman said there is no police body-cam footage because the arrest involved plainclothes officers.

In a statement released Friday, Navarro and Katz said they appreciated that acting police Chief Marcus Jones “promptly initiated a thorough investigation” into the case. They’ve also asked Jones to appear before the council as soon as possible to brief the council and to share “his strategies for community-police relations.” Katz chairs the county council’s Public Safety Committee.

County Council member Will Jawando, who has pushed for legislation to create a citizen’s police review board, posted a statement on Facebook: “Anybody who saw the video on twitter [sic] probably felt like I did — alarmed and upset.”

Jawando said he’d been told by Jones that the matter has been referred to the state’s attorney’s office for review. Police said Friday that the department’s Criminal Investigations Division is investigating and will refer findings to the state’s attorney’s office for review.

Police identified the man being taken into custody as 19-year-old Arnaldo Pesoa, of Silver Spring. Court documents indicate he was charged with possession with intent to distribute, resisting arrest and second-degree assault. Police said he was released after posting bond.

In a longer statement Friday, police said officers were part of an undercover operation for a suspect selling psilocybin mushrooms, and Pesoa had been identified as a suspect. When plainclothes officers found Pesoa in the Aspen Hill shopping center on Connecticut Avenue on Wednesday, police said he “became disorderly” and resisted arrest.

A preliminary hearing in Pesoa’s case has been set for Aug. 2.

The language in the video and the tweet could be offensive to some. The video is here.

WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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