THE BEATDOWN: Same As It Never Was?

rizzo69sepia.jpgINQUIRER: In 1977, Philadelphia police pounded unarmed motorist William Cradle so hard that their nightsticks snapped. Frank L. Rizzo, then the mayor, remarked: “It’s very easy to break some of those nightsticks nowadays.” In 2000, nearly a quarter-century later, a group of Philadelphia police swarmed over carjacking suspect Thomas Jones, hitting him at least 59 times. It took police brass more than two years to penalize the officers. The most serious sanctions: 15-day suspensions. Given this history, the swift and harsh punishments of eight officers Monday by Philadelphia’s new police commissioner look even more unusual. What is less clear is whether the discipline will stick. In a system that has angered a succession of police commissioners, arbitrators have for decades routinely put fired police back on the force or rolled back the length of suspensions. MORE

DAILY NEWS: IN A SHOOTING case in which the facts seem to change daily, police reports obtained by the Daily News yesterday seem to only muddy an already confusing incident that led to the videotaped police beating. An initial police report says that five black males emerged from a gold Mercury Grand Marquis just before the shooting at 4th and Annsbury streets, in North Philadelphia, on May 5. But a subsequent arrest report says that only four men got out of the car.policebrutality4.jpg

When the Marquis was later pursued with only three men inside, the driver tried to elude police. Once stopped at the 3700 block of North 2nd Street, the three men resisted arrest and one suspect struggled with an officer, causing a laceration to the officer’s finger, according to the arrest report. But the three men – Dwayne “Lionel” Dyches, Brian Hall and Pete Hopkins – were not charged with fleeing, resisting arrest or assaulting an officer in a city where the District Attorney’s Office routinely lodges such charges. All three were charged with attempted murder and related offenses in connection to the shooting.

D. Scott Perrine, Hopkins’ attorney, said yesterday that he believes that District Attorney Lynne Abraham didn’t file charges of resisting arrest or assault on an officer because after viewing a Fox 29 News video in which cops beat the suspects, she couldn’t give credence to the police version of events laid out in an arrest report. How then, Perrine asked, can Abraham’s office use the same arrest report to make its case against the shooting suspects? You can’t split the baby,” Perrine said.

“It’s either police work that is so sloppy that it is not worthy of anything ever being taken seriously from this Police Department and policebrutality3.jpgshouldn’t be the basis of how we prosecute anybody, or it’s indicative of people with limited intellect trying to cover something up,” Perrine said. In an interview last night, Ramsey was unable to explain the conflicting reports and witness statements, saying he had not delved into that level of detail with regard to the shooting. He said he instead concentrated on whether officers acted inappropriately after stopping the car and whether they should be disciplined. When asked why Hopkins had not been identified in the police report as the shooter, Ramsey replied: “I don’t know. [Hopkins] does not walk around with a name on his forehead so they may not have known what his actual name was at the time.” In a May 6 news conference, Ramsey said that officers recovered 15 fired shell casings from a 9 mm firearm near the shooting scene. The report, however, does not mention the shell casings. The report says that narcotics officers, while in pursuit of the Marquis, noticed that the back door of the car opened, seemingly suggesting that the suspects ditched the gun. A police search of the area found no gun. MORE

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