A Phoenix police officer and former union leader who was caught on video slapping a handcuffed suspect has been fired.
"Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has terminated Officer Tim Baiardi’s employment with the Phoenix Police Department," Phoenix police spokesperson Sergeant Tommy Thompson said in an email to Phoenix New Times. "His termination became official on August 7, 2019."
The firing comes amid a series of high-profile use-of-force incidents from Phoenix police officers, including the viral video of Officer Christopher Meyer telling a 22-year-old man he would "Put a fucking cap in your fucking head." Phoenix police are also considering criminal charges against Meyer.
Last December, Baiardi was working an off-duty security detail at a Walmart on 51st Avenue and Indian School Road when he arrested a man on suspicion of shoplifting. Baiardi handcuffed the man and took him into the store's loss-prevention office. While the man was sitting on a bench, 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 Walmart office.
After the Phoenix Police Department learned of the incident, they placed Baiardi on leave and began a criminal investigation into his actions, eventually recommending charges be brought against the officer.
In May, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office charged Baiardi with aggravated assault. An indictment filed by the county attorney's office states that Baiardi "slapped [the man] across the left side of his face with considerable force," and that Baiardi "denied striking Moran when questioned by two supervisors and provided no justification for the strike."
Despite his denial, two weeks ago, Baiardi took a plea deal which allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct. As part of the agreement, Baiardi will be placed on unsupervised probation, will pay restitution to the victim, and will have his criminal conviction reported to the Arizona Police Officers Standards and Training Board.
A judge still needs to accept the plea agreement at his sentencing, which is scheduled for August 30.
The former board member for the Phoenix Police Department's union previously had been suspended in 2005 for striking another handcuffed suspect.
He 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.
Though this post was not included in the database, a 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."
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