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Jury deliberations to begin Wednesday in trial of former Rock Hill officer from controversial arrest video

Jonathan Moreno is charged with assaulting Travis Price in June.
Jonathan Moreno is charged with assaulting Travis Price in June.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:59 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:00 PM EST
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - The former Rock Hill Police officer involved in a controversial arrest last summer took the stand again Tuesday in his own defense.

Jonathan Moreno is charged with assaulting Travis Price in June. It happened right after police arrested his brother, Ricky Price.

Related: Former police officer on trial for assault charge from controversial arrest of brothers in Rock Hill

The defendant answered questions from Solicitor Kevin Brackett for two hours on Tuesday morning, continuing testimony from Moreno that began the day before.

While in court Monday, both Travis Price and Moreno recounted what happened on that June day.

Price said he had permission from officers to be at the scene of his brother’s arrest to get his jewelry from him, but he ended up face down on the ground.

According to Price, Moreno became aggressive and escalated this situation.

Prosecutors say Moreno used an unjustified force, and Travis Price had done nothing wrong. But the defendant said he was already on alert because Ricky Price is reportedly known for fighting police.

“I didn’t have time to think in that moment. The only thing the only thing I was thinking about was the same thing he was thinking about - defending my brothers and sisters,” Moreno testified

On Tuesday, Moreno said his training tells him that people try to get rid of evidence, especially drugs. He also continued to maintain he was concerned for his fellow officers during the situation with the Price brothers. A back and forth between Moreno and the solicitor led to an admission—Moreno admits he didn’t tell Travis Price to back up.

”What would you say to tell someone to back up?” asks solicitor Brackett. ”My man you need to back up,” responds Moreno. ”Ok well where was that? My man you need to back up. Why didn’t you just do that?” asks Brackett again. ”That didn’t come to me at the time. I just said my man,” responds Moreno.

Moreno’s attorney said the city and prosecutors are trying to use him as a scapegoat.

Police arrested brothers Travis and Ricky Price near the Valero gas station on Willowbrook Avenue in Rock Hill on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

The video posted to Facebook on the same day shows police officers arresting the two men, a process that included a forcible takedown and became increasingly more physical until both men were handcuffed.

Price’s arrest sparked several nights of race-related protests after the videos showing the arrest were posted on social media.

Moreno testified Tuesday that the solicitor met with him and his attorney to try and find a resolution to the situation last year. It was then that Brackett asked him to apologize, the defendant said.

According to Moreno, he agreed to apologize at a press conference held days after the incident but noted that he didn’t want to do it there, but in a room with Travis Price instead.

“You made me feel like I was all at fault. But here you come in and blame the feds. So, whose fault is it?” Moreno testified Tuesday.

This caused a heated back and forth between the prosecutor and Moreno about the former officer’s apology. Moreno, wanting to apologize to Travis directly accused the solicitor of making him do it in front of a made for TV audience.

”You didn’t give me a choice Mr. Brackett. What you said to me in front of my wife was that I don’t want you to apologize to Travis Price in this room. I want you to do it at 3pm. Think about your brothers and sisters. Think about the riots. Think about what people are going to say when they see this video Officer Moreno. Think about them,” says Moreno.

The defendant also said under oath that the incident report and narrative from the June 23 incident were inaccurate with the video that was posted to social media. According to Moreno, it’s because it was rushed.

“This definitely should have been proofread,” Moreno said. “No sir, this is rushed paperwork because we had a riot on our hands.”

Jury deliberations will begin Wednesday in this trial.

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