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Ex-Phoenix Cop Who Slapped Handcuffed Man Gives Up Peace Officer Certification

Tim Baiardi and a screenshot from the video of Baiardi slapping a handcuffed man.
Tim Baiardi and a screenshot from the video of Baiardi slapping a handcuffed man.
Phoenix Police Department

The former Phoenix cop who was caught on camera hitting a handcuffed man in the face soon will be permanently banned from working in law enforcement in Arizona.

Last month, Tim Baiardi's attorney contacted the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to let the board know Baiardi wants to voluntarily relinquish his peace officer certification.

Baiardi's case had been on the agenda for the board's January meeting already. Had Baiardi's attorney not contacted the AZPOST, the board would have voted on whether or not to initiate proceedings against Baiardi's certification, meaning they could have decided to revoke or ask him to voluntarily surrender certification after a review of his case. Either result would render him ineligible to work as a police officer again in Arizona.

They could also have decided simply to suspend his peace officer certification, which would have allowed Baiardi to find work at a different police department in the state. Phoenix police fired him in August; his appeal to the Phoenix Civil Service Board was denied in December.

By voluntarily relinquishing his certification instead, Baiardi skips the AZPOST's review process and agrees to permanently relinquish his Arizona peace officer certification without admitting to any of the allegations against him. He could still find work as a cop in another state.

Baiardi had worked for the Phoenix Police Department for 18 years when he was fired, and was also a board member for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. He previously had been suspended in 2005 for striking another handcuffed suspect.

The more recent slapping incident came to light after ABC-15 News published footage of Baiardi abusing a shoplifting suspect.

It happened in December 2018, when Baiardi was working an off-duty security detail at a Walmart on 51st Avenue and Indian School Road and had arrested a man on suspicion of shoplifting. While the man was sitting on a bench in an office, handcuffed with his arms behind his back, Baiardi slapped him in the face.

Booking paperwork from the shoplifting suspect's arrest states that Baiardi delivered "2-3" knee strikes and "4-5 closed fist strikes" to the man in addition to the slap that was captured on video by a security camera in the office.

After supervisors learned of the incident, Baiardi was placed on leave and the department began a criminal investigation into his actions, eventually recommending charges be brought against the officer.

Baiardi was charged in May with aggravated assault. An indictment against him states that Baiardi "slapped [the man] across the left side of his face with considerable force," and that Baiardi "denied striking [the man] when questioned by two supervisors and provided no justification for the strike."

Despite his denial, Baiardi took a plea deal in July that allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct. As part of the agreement, Baiardi has been placed on unsupervised probation, will pay restitution to the victim, and had to report his criminal conviction to the AZPOST.

Because Baiardi was able to get the assault charge pleaded down to a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, his peace officer certification wasn't immediately revoked by the AZPOST board.

Baiardi is one of five officers fired for misconduct last year.

Baiardi was also one of dozens of Phoenix police officers whose Facebook posts were included in a database created by the Plain View Project in an effort to catalog bigotry and racism among police officers nationwide.

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Though this post was not included in the database, a Phoenix New Times review of Baiardi's Facebook (which has since been deactivated), showed that Baiardi posted a meme of former United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis captioned: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

During his appeal before the city's civil service board, members expressed that had the video published by ABC-15 not come to light, it's likely Baiardi's misconduct would have gone unnoticed and unpunished. Board members also pointed out that Baiardi lied about the incident during the first internal investigation, prior to the video's publication, which resulted in no action against the officer.

ABC-15 reported that Baiardi claimed he slapped the handcuffed man because the man had said he was going to rape Baiardi's wife. Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to uphold Baiardi's termination, despite Baiardi's attempts to get it walked back to a 240-hour suspension.

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