The former South Carolina police officer was found not guilty of third-degree assault and battery charge on Wednesday in connection with a controversial traffic stop he made last year.
The jury came to their decision after a day of debating the charges against Rock Hill police investigator Jonathan Moreno, who lost his job last year after mobile phone and police body camera footage showed him in plainclothes grabbing Travis Price, a black man. fighting. he was to the ground and pushed into a propane tank during a traffic stop last June, apparently without any provocation.
After the verdict, Moreno spoke to reporters outside the courthouse, mentioning his Colombian and Florida roots.
“Where I come from, there is diversity,” Moreno said. “I believe that one day Travis [Price] and I can come together… We can work it out and really change.”
In court, Price accused Moreno of using excessive force against him.
“That day I was severely beaten and treated unfairly for no reason,” said Price, who testified that he was heading home when he saw police arrest his brother at a gas station and went to the scene to collect some of his brother’s belongings. .
Price said the police gave him permission to do so, but Moreno said the other officers present at the scene did not inform him of this.
Video footage of Moreno’s actions led to several days of protests outside the Rock Hill police station.
Moreno publicly apologized at the time, but in court his legal team argued that his actions were appropriate, saying he worked in a “high crime” area and that Price’s brother resisted arrest.
“I had to make sure I was in control of that scene,” Moreno testified.
In court on Monday, Moreno and his lawyers hinted that the police department had decided to make him a scapegoat for the incident to quell public anger.