PPD Investigating Controversial Video of Kensington Arrest

arrest

Photo via Facebook

The Philadelphia Police Department is investigating a controversial video of an arrest that occurred Monday in Kensington.

The three-minute video, posted by a resident named Ariel Rivera, has been watched more than 360,000 times as of Wednesday morning. It was reportedly filmed near Elkart and Ella Streets just after midnight.

Footage reveals three police officers attempting to arrest a shirtless man, who is handcuffed and lying on the street in the beginning of the video. About 20 seconds in, one of the officers lifts and pushes the man against the street twice, striking him against the ground. Onlookers yell and step closer. One woman shouts, “There’s kids around!”

The officers then carry the man and attempt to put him into a police SUV, but the man appears to throw himself on the ground. A cop then places a baton under the man’s chest, picks him up from behind and swivels around. When he drops the man, the man’s head smacks against the side of an aboveground pool in the middle of the street. The officers then put him inside the vehicle.

Police declined to provide details on the man because of the ongoing investigation. A spokesperson said he was arrested for a narcotics violation. His condition was not available Wednesday. Around noon on Tuesday, Philly.com reported that he was in the hospital.

The video has been shared more than 6,000 times. Its comments are mixed, with some people claiming the man appeared to be resisting arrest and others calling the video evidence of police brutality.

Rivera, 24, told Philly.com that she recorded the video and pushed for people to share it “because this isn’t something that happens once in a blue moon in our neighborhood, this is very common.”

“A lot of people go through stuff like this,” Rivera told the news organization. “Our community is bad enough already, to be honest, we should not have to fear calling the police.”

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Wolf to Sign Bill Limiting Public Access to Police Footage

police footage

Gov.  Tom Wolf says he will sign a controversial Senate bill that would limit public access to police footage.

Under the bill, police footage (audio and video recordings from both body cameras and dashboard cameras) would become exempt from the state’s public-records law. That means police departments wouldn’t be required to release footage to those whose request it.

The state Senate passed the legislation without debate in a 49-1 vote Tuesday. Wolf says he will OK the bill despite reservations that it could limit transparency. The governor called Senate Bill 560 an “important first step” because it changes state law to enable police departments to use body cameras, specifically in private residences.

J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for Wolf, said the governor is “signing this bill because it allows police departments to more widely use body cameras to increase accountability for the first time without concerns over violating state law, which have hindered deployment to date. He wanted greater transparency in the bill, but it was not included.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania opposes the legislation, which it said “undermines the goal of using body cameras as a means of accountability for police officers.”

“This bill effectively hides what is captured by police cameras from the public,” the organization’s executive director, Reggie Shuford, said in a statement. “And that makes [police cameras] merely another tool of surveillance.”

The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month to make police dashboard videos public records. The bill would nullify that decision.

This story was updated to include comment from Wolf’s spokesperson.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Body Washes Up on North Wildwood Beach

Photo courtesy of the North Wildwood Police Department.

Police in North Wildwood are actively investigating the discovery of an unidentified man after his body washed up on the beach between 24th and 25th avenues last night.

The body of a man believed to be in his early 20s was found dead on the beach on Sunday around 9 p.m., the North Wildwood Police Department said in a statement. There were no obvious signs of trauma to the body. Read more »

Cops: Drunk Driver Hits Police Sergeant on Main Street in Manayunk

A drunk driver on Manayunk’s Main Street struck a police sergeant who was making a traffic stop this morning, cops say.

Photos on the scene show that the sergeant was knocked out of his shoes. The sergeant remains hospitalized with a broken collarbone, broken ribs and other injuries.

The driver did not stop, but a tow truck driver spotted his banged up Toyota Rav-4 in Roxborough. Police announced today that 21-year-old Colin Murphy, of Schwenksville, had been charged with driving under the influence, aggravated assault while DUI, criminal mischief and other offenses. Read more »

Villanova Moves Forward With Decision to Arm Public Safety Force

University entrance at the corner of Ithan and Lancaster Avenues.

University entrance at the corner of Ithan and Lancaster Avenues.                       Photo via villanova.edu

In an email sent Monday, Villanova University Public Safety Director and Chief of Police David Tedjeske updated students, faculty, and staff with the news that the university’s newly minted police department now has three sworn officers, and counting. According to a report by VUHoops, these officers have completed a 22-week police academy training, have access to law enforcement databases, can directly communicate with law enforcement by radio, and have the power to stop, question, and detain individuals. In addition to a firearm, officers will carry batons, handcuffs, bulletproof vests, pepper spray and body cameras. Officers will continue to be phased in, with a projected total of 19 to be hired over the course of the year.

In October of 2015, the decision to arm 20 percent of the campus public safety was publicized in an email sent by University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., and was met almost immediately with protest. Students and faculty organized marches and open forums, videos were produced, and various organizations took to social media with the hashtag #OurPublicSafety to encourage a reversal of the decision. In November, Donohue publicly engaged with the community’s concerns at a town hall style meeting, but ultimately announced that the decision would not be overturned.  Read more »

After the Latest Freddie Gray Acquittal, All I Feel Is Numb

Officer Caesar Goodson (left) on the day he was acquitted of murder charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. (left) on the day he was acquitted of all charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

What more can you write, post, scream, cry, cuss and pontificate about after a while? At some point, there’s a leaden numbness that creeps into the blood when these moments announce themselves. They’re like bizarro action movies; the whole narrative is reversed, and while we experience the same series of fake climaxes and plot twists, by the time of the denouement, you feel foolish, remembering and realizing that when you sat down to watch this play out, the outcome was never in question.

That’s what Freddie Gray’s death and court proceedings surrounding it feel like to me: the predictable outcome to a decidedly fucked-up action film. As the latest verdict was handed down involving Gray’s death, that old feeling came crawling back again. The initial incident literally set Baltimore ablaze, confounding many people inside and outside the city as to why so many blacks would feel inclined to protest so much, so angrily, so loudly and so violently. In that sense, that’s when the country feels the most unflatteringly colorblind; an entire nation, it seems, incapable of understanding what could be troubling people to act out in such a manner, taking to the streets in protest.

It can be hard to appreciate that those moments aren’t only about Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner. It can be hard to understand that black people in this country are intimately familiar with injustice. These murders don’t represent mere incidents of injustice, of “he said, authority said” narratives; these represent a legacy in the country so old it makes these situations preordained. We’ve been here before is what I’m saying. The constant exoneration and adulation of law enforcement makes sense if it’s never been a cudgel used against you.

I remember being a child in elementary school, drawing and coloring policemen: the bright smiles, the shiny caps, the impeccable uniforms and the billy clubs that seemed more likely to be used to shoo away dogs or, at worst, winos. I remember a school field trip to a police station; donning one of those uniform caps, the adult-sized hat falling over my eyes and me playfully tilting it back so that I could see. Sitting in the passenger seat of a cruiser as an officer showed me how the radio dispatch worked; clapping and laughing with my classmates when the stationary cruiser’s sirens were turned on, blue-red-blue-red-blue-red-blue-red whipping across our faces. Read more »

OPINION: GOAL Is the Wrong Choice for Grand Marshal of Pride

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Every year, Philly Pride does something that sours me on our city’s LGBTQ community.

Whether it’s the lack of creativity in venue selection, the disproportionate number of cisgender gay white men dominating the event, or the lack of a queer-cultural embrace that intersects the community, Pride often fails to represent everyone.

But this year, the selection by event organizer Philly Pride Presents of the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League (GOAL) — a year-old regional law-enforcement organization whose members identify as LGBT — as grand marshals of the Pride parade on June 12th has left me beyond disappointed. Read more »

Philly Jesus Arrested at Apple Store

It may not be Holy Thursday, but Jesus got locked up today.

Michael Grant — aka Philly Jesus, the former heroin addict-turned-quasi-street preacher — frequently checks his email and Twitter at the Apple Store on Walnut Street.

Philly Jesus has been a constant presence in Center City for more than two years now. He shows up at city events, walks the streets during the workday — usually while carrying a cross. He brought that cross in with him at the Apple Store today, which may have been what caused all the trouble. Read more »

Delaware Police Officer Acquitted in Shocking Videotaped Kicking

A jury has acquitted a Dover, Delaware, police officer accused of kicking a black suspect in the face — even though the suspect appeared to be complying with commands at the time.

Dover Cpl. Thomas Webster IV, had been charged with felony assault in connection with the 2013 incident, which was captured on a police car dashcam. Webster was seen kicking 29-year-old Lateef Dickerson in the head, knocking him unconscious and breaking his jaw. Dickerson had fled from another officer who was breaking up a fight. Read more »

Police Officer in Medford, N.J., Files Racial Discrimination Suit

medford-police-400The only African-American officer on the Medford Township, N.J., police force is suing his employer and the township, alleging a pattern of racial discrimination in promotion, a hostile work environment and retaliation for testimony he gave during an internal investigation of his immediate supervisor, among other charges.

Officer Mark Hunsinger filed his lawsuit in Burlington County Court on October 10th. At a midday news conference December 7th, Walter L. Hudson Sr., founder and chairman of the National Awareness Alliance, NAACP New Jersey State President Richard Smith and Doug Long, the attorney representing Hunsinger, called on township officials to take action to rectify the alleged wrongdoing. Read more »

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