Video of police beating:

May 8, 2008

Police Beating of Suspects Is Taped by TV Station in Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA ­ About 12 police officers were videotaped on Monday beating three men stopped in response to a drug-related shooting, and six of the officers have been removed from patrols, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.

In the incident, captured by a Fox TV helicopter, officers surrounded a car carrying the three men. They were pulled from the car, and two were kicked and punched on the ground by officers on the driver’s side. The third man was beaten by other officers on the passenger side.

(here comes the excuse)

The incident, on Monday night, in the Hunting Park section followed the shooting death of Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, 39, a 12-year member of the force, on Saturday in the nearby Port Richmond section.

Sergeant Liczbinski was pursuing three robbery suspects. The police arrested a man sought in the case late Wednesday night, the Associated Press reported. Another was arrested on Sunday, and a third was fatally shot by an officer shortly after the officer’s killing, The A.P. said.

Mr. Ramsey said at a news conference that the police were under great “stress and pressure” after Sergeant Liczbinski’s death. He is the third Philadelphia officer to be killed in the line of duty in the last two years.

But, Mr. Ramsey added, there was no excuse for the behavior on the videotape.

The video is being examined to try to identify more officers involved in the beatings. Mr. Ramsey said he expected more officers to be reassigned to administrative duties as a result.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham will decide on filing criminal charges against the officers, Mr. Ramsey said.

The new mayor, Michael A. Nutter, has emphasized reducing the violence that has given Philadelphia one of the highest murder rates in the nation.

Mr. Nutter and Mr. Ramsey are trying to overcome decades of distrust between the mostly black residents of areas like North Philadelphia and a largely white police force.

The beating victims, all from North Philadelphia, have all been charged with assault, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person. D. Scott Perrine, a lawyer for the three, called the incident a blatant example of police brutality.

“We have not seen stuff like this since the 1960s and the 1970s in Philadelphia,” Mr. Perrine said. “These officers are criminals, and they should be prosecuted.”

He denied that his clients had any connection with the shooting of Sergeant Liczbinski, and he said the Police Department was seeking to explain the “zealousness” of the officers in the incident by saying the force as a whole was distressed and exhausted by the sergeant’s death.

The three men are being held on bail, awaiting a preliminary hearing on May 16.


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