Montgomery County settles civil action with man who was kicked in the back of the head by a police officer

Montgomery County has settled a lawsuit with a man who was kicked in the back of the head two years ago by a county police officer during an arrest.

Officer Kevin Moris was seen in video kneeling Arnaldo Pesoa, now 21, outside a McDonald’s in Aspen Hill in July 2019. Police said they were arresting Pesoa for selling mushrooms to psilocybin – a type of drug that can cause hallucinations. As Moris tried to handcuff Pesoa to the ground, the officer hit Pesoa with his knee.

The Montgomery County State Attorney’s Office charged Moris with second-degree assault and misconduct in the line of duty following the confrontation. A jury found him guilty of assault after a trial in December 2019, but acquitted him of the misconduct charge.

Moris was sentenced to two years probation in August 2020, but Circuit Court Judge Nelson Rupp granted Moris probation ahead of judgment in March, overturning the conviction.

Pesoa filed a civil lawsuit in June 2020, arguing that the full force of Moris’s knee landing on his head and neck could have caused fatal injuries. Pesoa suffered a concussion, “extensive lacerations” and severe bleeding, according to the documents.

The lawsuit alleged force, an unconstitutional policy of authorizing the use of force, assault and battery.

At a hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court Thursday, Deputy County Attorney Gessesse Teferi told Judge James Bonifant the case has been settled. He did not specify the terms of the settlement.

The settlement was $ 400,000, which is the maximum possible for the state’s civil rights claims under the local government tort claims law, Pesoa lawyer Timothy Maloney wrote Thursday. , in an email to Bethesda Beat.

Pesoa hopes the results will lead to “real reform” of the police, Maloney wrote.

“No Montgomery County police officer should ever slam their knee in anyone’s neck. The fact that the officer’s conduct was videotaped contributed to some accountability here, ”he wrote.

Dan Schere can be contacted at [email protected]

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