Montgomery County police officer sentenced for assault on handcuffed man

A Montgomery County, Maryland, police officer convicted in the assault of a suspect in custody last year at a McDonald’s in Aspen Hill, Maryland, was sentenced Monday.

Officer Kevin Moris got 90 days in prison suspended and two years on probation on his conviction for second-degree assault.

Before he was sentenced, Moris told Judge Nelson Rupp, “This incident has forever changed me as a person, a father and a police officer, as I’ll hopefully resume my career.”

Rupp’s sentence Moris at the midpoint of the guidelines for the second-degree assault of Arnaldo Pesoa. A 12-person jury convicted Moris of the charge last December, after viewing multiple witness cellphone videos during his trial that showed Moris putting his knee on Pesoa’s neck while the man was restrained.

Pesoa, who was 19 at the time, was being arrested as part of an undercover drug operation in July 2019.

“Although I accept the jury saw my actions as an error in judgment, I also believe they saw my intentions were not malicious for not finding me guilty of misconduct in office,” Moris said to the judge.

He said he is now a full-time, stay-at-home dad to his four children as his wife works.

Rupp mentioned Moris’ nine years of service and the fact he has no record or past misconduct allegations or complaints. Rupp also noted the three lifesaving commendations in the six months immediately preceding Pesoa’s arrest.

“I think the sentence was consistent with a similarly situated defendant charged with this kind of an offense with no record,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

McCarthy met with the Pesoa family after the sentencing, and he said they are all “very much satisfied by the sentenced given by the judge,” and that Pesoa’s mother forgave Moris.

“Because he was acting on behalf of the public, she would hope that in the future, he would have thought that, ‘This is someone else’s child,” McCarthy said of the mother’s sentiment.

McCarthy said there was no obvious reactions to the sentence in the courtroom, though he acknowledged it was hard to tell as everyone was wearing a mask.

Pesoa filed a civil suit against Moris and the county in June. The Washington Post reported at the time that he was looking for the county to stop permitting the use of a knee on a defendant’s neck, and to ban the use of deadly force unless an officer’s life is in danger.

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