Montgomery Co. officer accused of kneeing handcuffed suspect appears in court

A Montgomery County police officer facing criminal excessive force allegations appeared in court Thursday morning for a hearing ahead of his trial.

Kevin Moris, 32, is charged with kneeing a suspect who was lying on the ground, handcuffed, during an arrest at an Aspen Hill, Maryland, McDonald’s in July. He faces charges of assault and misconduct in office.

During the court hearing Thursday, Judge Robert Greenberg and defense attorney Morgan Leigh confirmed that the trial will start Dec. 9.

Video of the incident (which could be offensive to some) posted on social media shows the suspect handcuffed and lying on his stomach on a sidewalk. Moris, one of a group of at least four on the scene, holds the suspect down by the neck with one knee, while another stands on the back of his left knee.

After Moris stands up, the handcuffed suspect raises his head and yells at the officers. Moris then  drives one knee into the back of the man’s neck and bangs his head into the sidewalk, face-first.

The suspect’s mouth is bloodied, and he’s told to stop spitting as his shirt is pulled up to cover his face. Then the video ends.

“I am troubled as someone who has been involved in law enforcement for a very long time in this community,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy after Moris was charged. “One of the fundamental things that I think is most important about this case is trying to rebuild public trust.”

The police department placed Moris on administrative duties.

“The men and women of the department want to be held accountable because they pride themselves on the reputation they have in this community,” McCarthy said.

The 20-year-old suspect in the incident, Arnaldo Pesoa, was charged with trying to sell psilocybin mushrooms. He was also charged with resisting arrest.

“The Montgomery County Department of Police takes any complaints or evidence of excessive force seriously,” police said in a statement following the incident. “An investigation into this matter has been opened and will be investigated thoroughly.”

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