Group issues demands after former Rock Hill officer found not guilty of assault

Members held a news conference at 12 p.m. Thursday at the RHPD.
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 11:34 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2022 at 10:04 PM EST
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) – The members of Moms Against Racism have issued a set of demands after former Rock Hill police officer Jonathan Moreno was found not guilty of third-degree assault and battery in the controversial arrest of Travis Price last year.

According to a news release, the group is calling for an independent and transparent investigation; a release of the timeline of the citizen’s review board responding to the incident and updates on their establishment by Jan. 29; the city of Rock Hill to implement a policy that observes that jury selection represents the city’s demographics; and the Rock Hill Police Department to address the community on their current use of force policy and the necessary revisions to ensure that police brutality is intolerable within the department.

At a press conference on Thursday, Moms Against Racism Founder Natasha Witherspoon and South Carolina Black Activist Coalition Moderator Justin Hunt stood in front of Rock Hill police department with a list of demands: a transparent investigation into the trial especially jury selection, a citywide policy for juries reflecting Rock Hill’s demographics and revisions to the RHPD use of force policy.

They also demanded answered from the citizen’s review board and an update on their job policies and implementations. A city spokesperson tells WBTV that the review board is still waiting for approval through the city council.

”The Rock Hill PD and the city of Rock Hill must. Do. Better,” says Witherspoon.

To voice these commands, the group took to the streets. Much like they did on June 23rd when the arrest happened.

”Last night we publicly protested in front of Officer Moreno’s home. And we will continue in our manner on a public road. And we will not stop until this city understands that our lives matter too,” says Justin Hunt, South Carolina Black Activist Coalition.

It comes a day after a judge issued an Allen charge Wednesday, telling the jury to go back and agree on a verdict after they failed to come to a unanimous decision in the assault case against Moreno. They reached the verdict just before 7:30 p.m.

Related: Former Rock Hill officer found not guilty of assault in Price brothers arrests

Price ended up face down on the ground as he was picking up jewelry from his brother, Ricky Price, as police were arresting Ricky.

Yesterday, January 26, 2022, we witnessed another systemic failure that resulted in an innocent black male citizen in Rock Hill, SC traumatized for doing the right thing but was met with an injust verdict of his abuser,” a letter from Moms Against Racism stated. “Travis Price is not only innocent, he was falsely arrested, assaulted and received an apology from Officer Jonathan Moreno.”

During the trial Tuesday, the solicitor argued instead of Moreno choosing to ask Price to back up, he used physical force.

Moreno then admitted he didn’t tell Price to back up. He also maintained that he was concerned for his fellow officers.

“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 apologize to him at 3 p.m. 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,” Moreno testified.

However, Moreno, after receiving the not guilty verdict, told reporters he was happy with the outcome but understood work needed to be done to heal the fractured community.

“I want to thank our justice system. It is one of the greatest justice systems in the world. And I want you to believe in the justice system,” says Moreno. “I truly believe we can get together and resolve this and really make a change.”

There is still a civil case against Moreno pending that Travis Price and his attorney filed months ago. One case does not influence the other, so the results of this criminal trial will not pay a role in the civil.

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