Rock Hill, SC – Officials released bodycam video of the arrests of brothers Travis and Ricky Price by Rock Hill police in June and then announced that one of the officers involved had been fired and charged (video below).
The incident occurred after Rock Hill police stopped Ricky Price on June 23 in a gas station parking lot with a gun and drugs in his vehicle, WCNC reported.
The suspect’s brother saw the traffic stop and pulled his own vehicle into the gas station and attempted to intervene.
Officers told Travis Price to stand to the side while they arrested Ricky Price, so they could give him his brother’s jewelry and other personal items before he was transported to jail, WCNC reported.
But officials said Rock Hill Police Officer Jonathan Moreno didn’t know that when he approached Travis Price and escalated the situation.
Bodycam video from the scene showed Officer Moreno picked up the gun police found in Ricky Price’s car and then ran up to Travis Price, WCNC reported.
Officer Moreno pushed Travis Price up against a white fuel tank and threatened him, then took him to the ground, the video showed.
Rock Hill police officials initially claimed that Travis Price had made repeated physical contact with officers and refused to follow police commands, WCNC reported.
“Travis then used his body to bump the Officers backward,” Rock Hill PD claimed in a statement immediately after the incident. “Travis shoved Officers, refusing to comply with orders to place his hands behind his back.”
Bodycam video showed that once Officer Moreno had Travis Price face-down on the ground, he repeatedly encouraged him to fight, WCNC reported.
“Fight, fight! It’s just me and you,” Officer Moreno told Travis Price in the video.
But Kevin Brackett, the 16th Circuit Solicitor, said that Travis Price had been following instructions he’d been given by officers when he was taken down by Officer Moreno.
Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts announced at a press conference on July 8 that the charges against Travis Price had been dropped, WCNC reported.
Chief Watts also announced his decision to fire Officer Moreno and said the officer had violated department policy.
Then in a wholly unusual move, the newly-former Officer Moreno took the dais and apologized publicly to Travis Price, the Rock Hill police, and the community, WCNC reported.
Former Officer Moreno, a 10-year veteran of the Rock Hill police force, told Travis Price had had let his emotions get the better of him and should be held accountable.
Chief Watts then announced his decision to charge the former officer with third-degree assault and battery in connection with the arrest of Travis Price, WCNC reported.
Former Officer Moreno was led from the room by officers and booked at the detention center.
He was scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 12.
Multiple officers who were involved with the arrest of Ricky Price that same day have been cleared of wrongdoing by the police department, WCNC reported.
“The officers did not assault Ricky Price,” Chief Watts said. “Ricky Price assaulted the officers and resisted arrest.”
Rock Hill Police Officer Matthew Palmer who was also featured with his K9 in the video was initially suspended but has since been reinstated to the force, the police chief said.
In the video, the K9 appeared to be viciously barking and lunging at the brothers, WCNC reported.
But Chief Watts said the officers were permitted to use the K9 under the circumstances although he said that it was not the best decision in the moment.
“A police K9 can be used by policy in a use-of-force situation,” the police chief explained. “As we review this case, that was not appropriate at that time.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: