KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Kansas City police officer was convicted of 3rd degree assault when he admitted repeatedly striking a restrained suspect in the face and head with his fist during an arrest on Oct. 5, 2013.
According to court documents, Carl Counti, 39, and Sgt. Lemoine attempted to arrest a man suspected in an armed carjacking in the area of 24th Street and Cypress in Kansas City, Mo. The suspect in the carjacking — later named the victim in the assault case — Alfredo Ponce, 21, resisted arrest. Counti is charged with third degree assault for punching Ponce in the face and/or head area nine to 10 times during the struggle to apprehend him.
Counti was sentenced to one-year in the county jail, but the sentence was suspended and he was given two years supervised probation. As part of his plea, Counti will be required to serve 30 days of “shock detention” in jail. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service and must participate in anger management classes.
Court documents indicate Ponce admitted to detectives he resisted arrest and struggled with officers. Court documents also indicate Ponce said he would like to apologize to the officers involved in his arrest. The probable cause statement further stated that Ponce said “he did what he did, the officers did what they did and he just wanted to forget about it.”
Court documents state that several other officers who responded to the scene saw Counti strike Ponce in the head. Officer Patrick Moss said he saw Counti strike Ponce twice with an open hand while trying to control him. Bell said he turned his attention away from Counti as another vehicle pulled up and the people inside got out and were advancing on the officers.
Officer Morgan Bell stated in the probable cause she saw Counti and Sgt. Lemoine attempting to take Ponce into custody. Bell said she observed Ponce “actively resisting arrest, kicking and attempting to get his feet free.” Bell said she took control of Ponce’s legs while Counti had control of his body. Bell said Sgt. Lemoine attempted to restrain Ponce using a neck hold. Additional officers arrived, and according to Bell, they assisted in placing Ponce in handcuffs. Morgan stated she saw Counti use wrist locks and strike Ponce approximately 10 times in the face with a closed fist.
Another officer who responded to the scene, Richard A. Salzman, stated he saw Counti strike Ponce’s head area three to four times with a closed fist during the arrest.
Officer Eurik K. Hunt stated in the probable cause when he arrived at the scene he saw a number of officers attempting to place Ponce into custody. After the vehicle with other people pulled up — who were later identified as family members of Ponce, Ponce became more belligerent. Hunt said when he was speaking with Ponce’s relatives he noticed his microphone pack was not operating. Hunt said the relatives were growing more and more belligerent. Hunt returned to his car to manually turn on his video recording system but said the system would not start.
Hunt said as other officers were placing Ponce under arrest he saw Counti strike him in the upper body but was unclear where. Hunt stated Ponce made remarks to the effect “you are going to have to hit me” and instructed his family members to record the arrest. Hunt said he observed Ponce to have some blood on his face.
In the probable cause statement Counti told detectives when he and Sgt. Lemoine first approached Ponce on suspicions of car jacking, Ponce swung at Sgt. Lemoine with a closed fist, appearing to strike him in the face. Counti said he attempted to use a taser to subdue Ponce but the mechanism failed. A short foot chase followed before Ponce turned and “squared off” with Sgt. Lemoine and Counti. Counti stated Sgt. Lemoine took Ponce to the ground and the two officers struggled to apprehend him. In the scuffle, Counti said Ponce gained control of his taser and attempted to deploy it. Counti said his legs were entangled in the wires of his taser and he feared being incapacitated. Counti said he tried to remove his weapon from the holster but it was caught on Ponce’s shirt.
Counti said he placed Ponce in a wrist lock and had Ponce’s wrist bent in such a way he feared he might break his arm. Counti said he instructed Ponce to stop resisting for fear of injuring him. After Ponce was taken into custody, other officers disengaged. Counti said Ponce continued to resist. At this time Counti said he was left to control Ponce alone. Counti said due to Ponce’s continual non-compliance, he struck him approximately three times in the side of his head with the palm side of his hand. Counti said he again struck Ponce six times in two separate instances in an effort to get him to comply.
Counti said he sat Ponce on the curb after it was apparent he was no longer a threat. In the probable cause, Counti stated “even though he (Ponce) said he was not injured and had no visible signs of injury I ordered an ambulance for him anyway.”
Currently, Counti has been suspended for his involvement in Ponce’s arrest.