DAILY NEWS: A Common Pleas judge – like another judge before him – dismissed all charges yesterday against two former Philadelphia police officers accused of punching and kicking a graffiti vandal in Feltonville two years ago. After an 80-minute hearing involving two new witnesses, plenty of objections by high-profile defense attorneys, and impassioned arguments, Judge Frank Palumbo ended the case by announcing: “Discharged.” The two ex-cops, Sheldon Fitzgerald and Howard Hill III, both 30, then left the courtroom and were congratulated by their former colleagues. The two declined comment. Fortunato “Fred” Perri Jr., who represented the men with his partner Brian McMonagle, said: “We’re thrilled.” Perri said Hill and Fitzgerald had been fired from the force and are seeking to get their jobs back.
The preliminary hearing against the two on aggravated assault and related charges was first heard in November before Municipal Court Senior Judge Francis P. Cosgrove, who had similarly dismissed all charges. The District Attorney’s Office then refiled the charges against Hill and Fitzgerald, who were accused of beating graffiti vandal David Vernitsky and fracturing his jaw about 12:30 a.m. Aug. 26, 2007, near 4th Street and Wyoming Avenue, after they observed him spray-painting a wall of a business. MORE