Trial Starts Today for Accused Cops

Defense will attack credibility of witnesses in the case.


After a week of preliminaries, trial is expected to get under way today for six Philadelphia narcotics officers accused of robbing and shaking down the drug dealers they were supposed to be putting behind bars.

Defense attorneys for the officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Michael Spicer — are expected to attack the credibility of federal prosecutors’ witnesses, many of whom are convicted or accused drug dealers. More than 160 drug cases involving the officers have been thrown of criminal court.

“The tragic part is, because of the police corruption, we have absolutely no idea whether the people arrested were actually drug dealers, or actually innocent people wrongly arrested and maligned, and brought into the judicial system,” public defender Bradley Bridge told Associated Press.

The Inquirer reports:

The government’s case hinges on getting a jury composed largely of suburban residents to believe the word of convicted dealers, drug users, and forgers over that of veteran officers, many of whom have racked up commendations in their lengthy careers.

“It’s their word against our word,” said Reynolds’ lawyer, Jack McMahon. “Almost to a man, these guys are admitted drug dealers that were out there doing the things that our clients were charged with stopping.”

AP notes prosecutors have one more, still-compromised witness: “Former Officer Jeffrey Walker, who pleaded guilty to stealing $15,000 from a drug suspect and planting evidence in his car, is expected to spend several grueling days on the stand as lawyers for his former colleagues test his version of events. Officials concede he once stole three kilos of cocaine from a drug trafficker.”