PHOENIX (KNXV/CNN) - A Phoenix police officer is now facing criminal charges for slapping a shoplifting suspect at a city Walmart.
If convicted, Tim Baiardi of the Phoenix Police Department, will no longer be able to work as a police officer in Arizona. (Source: KNXV/CNN)
The incident was caught on surveillance video.
Court documents show officer Tim Baiardi is now charged with aggravated assault.
Video shows Baiardi slapping a 22-year-old already in cuffs.
"He's shown that he cannot be trusted when there are cameras, let alone when there are not cameras," said Viri Hernandez, executive director of Poder in Action, an advocacy group.
The group is surprised but happy to see formal charges against the police officer.
"I think it is the first good step," Hernandez said. "I think it is necessary to make sure that when officers don't behave well that there are consequences, because for so long we haven't had that."
But there is a bigger question.
"Why do officers feel that this is OK?" Hernandez said.
An in-person interview request to Chief Jeri Williams was rejected.
But in an email on her behalf, her office said the chief was shocked and appalled at the video.
"This type of activity will not be tolerated," the statement said. "This adversely impacts our reputation."
So, what happens now?
Baiardi still has a job and is still being paid.
Phoenix police said they will start looking into whether or not he violated their policies.
It is unclear what that means for his employment.
This is only one example of a culture of violence Hernandez said.
"It starts when you can stop someone, arrest someone, have them handcuffed and then still hit them," she said. "This officer needs to be removed from our neighborhoods immediately."
If the officer is convicted or decides to take a plea deal on the charge, he can no longer serve anywhere in Arizona.
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