By Chris Boyette, CNN
A South Carolina jury found former police officer Jonathan Moreno not guilty Wednesday in connection with the arrest of a man last summer that sparked nights of protests.
“I want to thank everybody out there in the community that believes and supports my family,” Moreno said after the verdict was read. “We need to really recognize that this incident divided our community and since I’ve moved here from South Florida, I’ve only tried to unite.”
Moreno was charged with third-degree assault and battery after a video surfaced on social media showing him and other officers arresting two brothers in June 2021.
The confrontation began with Ricky Price was pulled over and called his brother Travis Price, who came to the scene, according to a June statement from Rock Hill police.
Moreno believed Travis Price was too close to the officers arresting his brother, Kevin Brackett, solicitor for a judicial circuit that includes York County, said at the time.
Ricky Price was put in handcuffs and placed under arrest, police said, but Travis Price tried to get closer to his brother to reach for belongings that officers were removing from Ricky Price during his arrest. Travis Price “used his body to bump the Officers backward,” police said. Brackett said Moreno didn’t know Travis Price had the permission of other officers to retrieve his brother’s jewelry when Moreno confronted him.
Travis Price was told by police he was under arrest for interfering and physically contacting officers, according to police, and officers pushed him against a large gas tank only after he shoved them and would not put his hands behind his back. The video shows Travis Price and officers falling to the ground.
Moreno was later fired by the Rock Hill Police Department, and an investigation found Moreno’s interaction with Travis Price violated department policy, citing his failure to de-escalate the situation.
At a news conference in July, Moreno publicly apologized to Travis Price, saying he wished “my emotions didn’t get the best of me.”
Charges against Travis Price were ultimately dropped, according to his attorney.
“While Travis Price is disappointed by this verdict, he respects the jury process,” Price’s attorney, Justin Bamberg, said in a statement.
“Our concern is that other citizens don’t suffer the same mistreatment that Travis Price endured. We will continue to fight for those who have been wrongly accused or subjected to excessive force and will push back against this department and any other who attempts to take advantage of those they are entrusted to protect and serve,” the statement said.
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