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

They reached the verdict just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
The jury is beginning its deliberation Wednesday in the trial of a former Rock Hill officer...
The jury is beginning its deliberation Wednesday in the trial of a former Rock Hill officer from a controversial arrest video.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:24 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 5:58 PM EST
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Former Rock Hill police officer Jonathan Moreno has been found not guilty of a third-degree assault and battery charge in the controversial arrest of Travis Price last year.

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 a former Rock Hill police officer. They reached the verdict just before 7:30 p.m.

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

“While Travis Price is disappointed by this verdict, he respects the jury process,” Price’s attorney, Justin Bamberg said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of Kevin Brackett and the Solicitor’s office but we are concerned about many things that came to light during trial.”

Bamberg said the following:

“Former Rock Hill police officer Jonathan Moreno admitted the official police report and use of force report were mostly inaccurate. Everyone testified that Travis was innocent, and that nobody escalated the situation that day aside from law enforcement. Given the high-profile nature of this incident, we can only imagine what might happen on a day-to-day basis with the Rock Hill Police Department regarding the truthfulness of their reports and record keeping.

Our concern is that other citizens don’t suffer the same mistreatment that Travis Price endured. We will continue to fight for those who have been wrongly accused or subjected to excessive force and will push back against this department and any other who attempts to take advantage of those they are entrusted to protect and serve.

We will continue to fight for Mr. Price through our civil action against the Rock Hill Police Dept. and Congressman Ralph Norman. With clear testimony that nothing that was said about Travis was true, we wonder how much longer it will take for them to do the right thing.”

After the sixth hour of deliberations Wednesday, the jury came back to ask the judge to define when a suspect is “under control”.

The judge told them this was not in the scope of the law and shouldn’t be considered. The jury had been deliberating for more than eight hours Wednesday.

Later in the day, the judge announced the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, so the judge issued what is called an “Allen charge”.

According to Fully Informed Jury Association, a judge may issue an “Allen charge” when jurors cannot agree on a verdict. This Allen charge is further instruction to the jury to encourage those in the minority to reconsider their position.

The jury has been pouring over several pieces of evidence presented over the last two days, including videos from that day and witness stand interviews from both Price and Moreno.

The judge instructed the jury to consider the assault and battery law as defined in South Carolina code.

”That is the only law. That is the only charge that Mr. Moreno has been charged with. And that is the only thing you should consider,” Judge Michael Scurlock said.

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.

If Moreno was convicted, he faced a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in prison.

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