Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man seen here, a suspect in an armed robbery in Rittenhouse Square. Read more »
Barely a week goes by without someone suing the Philadelphia Police Department for one thing or another. Lawsuits are filed so frequently that they rarely ever stand out. Oh, somebody is suing the police again. But in this particular case, a Philadelphia police officer is suing his own force for police brutality. Read more »
OK, we’ve probably beat up on the Philadelphia Police Department enough for one summer. We’ve suffered through a new scandal, retreaded an old scandal, questioned the connection between this department and the tragic events of Ferguson, Mo., and seen the rise of a new movement to increase the department’s accountability to the public.
Most of this was necessary.
But before we we leave the summer — hopefully for a future filled with mutual respect between police and citizens, the highest ethical standards for each, and the end of “no snitch” culture — let’s consider one last thing: The words of Mayor Michael Nutter.
Something doesn’t add up.
The Inquirer on Friday did something pretty unusual: It printed a takedown of the reporting behind the Daily News’ Pulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series of reports about police corruption in 2009. The underlying question in the report: Why had Thomas Tolstoy — accused of sexually assaulting women on the job, as well as sundry other bits of corruption — been able to stay free and even keep his police job in the years since?
The Inky’s answer? Ethically questionable behavior on the part of the Daily News reporters, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, may have compromised the case. Specifically, the two are alleged to have offered financial assistance to “Naomi,” a key witness who said Tolstoy jammed his fingers into her vagina during a 2008 drug raid. Naomi’s real identity has never been revealed publicly.
Commissioner Charles Ramsey, at least, is making the case that the reporters’ behavior was so egregious that Tolstoy — a bad cop by the commissioner’s estimation — won’t get the punishment he might deserve. “It’s not a question of whether misconduct occurred. I think we have an investigation that does demonstrate that,” Ramsey told KYW Newsradio, “but this could very well be exploited by defense counsel when it comes to creating some doubt in the mind of an arbitrator.”
Here are three reasons — drawn only from the public reporting on this issue — that the “bad reporting kept a bad cop on the streets” story doesn’t quite make sense.
[UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.] Police released the name of the deceased suspect, David Ellis, along with his mugshot (at the bottom of this post). Ellis had a history of arrests, and was reportedly released after serving 6 years of a 4 to 10 year sentence.
[UPDATE, 12:20 p.m.] Police have announced that Stephen Korpalski, the Philadelphia Police officer shot during an overnight altercation, has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. The identity of the suspect, who was pronounced dead after being struck by return fire, is still being confirmed. The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting.
@PhillyPolice Officer Korpalski was shot tonight, in stable condition, very lucky, very blessed. Our prayers are with him and his family.
— John Stanford (@PPDJohnStanford) August 19, 2014
A Philly Police officer was hospitalized overnight after a shootout left him with a deep graze wound to the side of the head. A suspect in the shootout was killed during the exchange.
And in the aftermath of the latest scandal — in which a half-dozen members of the notorious narcotics squad were charged with various corruption offenses — there have been increasing calls for action: Ellen Kaplan, interim president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, last month called for the creation of a permanent civilian oversight board for the Philadelphia Police Department. (Specifically, the committee endorsed a charter amendment proposed by Councilman Curtis Jones.) This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer echoed that call on its editorial page.
“Right now, I think that the public is pretty distrustful of the police force when they hear these kind of allegations,” Kaplan said this week. “And it’s really not fair. Most officers do not behave in the way that it’s alleged that these folks on the narcotics squad behaved. It really casts a dark cloud over the entire police department.”
Kaplan talked to Philly Mag about the proposal.
One bit of irony regarding the massive police crackdown on protesters (and journalists) in Ferguson, Mo. this week: Democracy advocates in the Middle East began tweeting advice to their American compatriots on how to deal with tear gas attacks and similar police techniques. Make of that what you will.
The New York Times reports, though, that some observers see perhaps a stronger connection between the two regions: The heavy-handed techniques used by Ferguson’s police, they say, bear a striking resemblance to those developed by former Philly Police Commissioner John Timoney.
It’s only been two days since Inquirer columnist Karen Heller — memorably, we thought at the time — promised that we’d see another narcotics squad scandal in five to seven years.
Turns out her estimate might’ve been off by, oh, five to seven years.
City Paper’s reporter Dan Denvir reports that Philadelphia Police Officer Christopher Hulmes has been taken off street duty after he “admitted in December 2011 to lying in open court and on a search warrant affidavit.” Internal Affairs is investigating.
On Sunday night, a man allegedly punched a woman on the street after the 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties. The punch was described by one witness as the hardest punch he had ever seen.
Police were called several times. But according to many of the people who were there during and in the aftermath of the incident, some of the police did not respond appropriately to the situation. And now, Internal Affairs is investigating. Read more »
This is Brandon Ruffin. Police say he’s their remaining suspect in Friday night’s shooting that killed a 3-year-old girl. Douglas Woods, 22, has been charged with murder in the case.
“The following photo is of 22-year-old Brandon Ruffin, with a last known address on the 2300 block of Wharton Street in South Philadelphia,” police said in a Monday afternoon press release. “Ruffin is wanted by the Homicide Unit for his involvement in the quadruple shooting/homicide that occurred on Friday, August 1, 2014, 9:40 pm, on the 1500 block of South Etting Street.”