VIDEO: White SEPTA Cop Punches Black Man in the Head [Updated]
Watch the video below. It’s only seven seconds long, and it appears to show a police officer in Philadelphia punching a man across the head while the man is on the ground and in a defensive position at a SEPTA station.
Based on the description, the video was shot in Philadelphia on Sunday. The full description reads as follows: “Unwarranted aggression and abuse of power by The Philadelphia Police Dept. on a young man that was not under arrest or resisting arrest.”
According to a spokesperson with the Philadelphia Police Department, the officers involved are actually members of the SEPTA police force, not the PPD. SEPTA press officer Andrew Busch confirmed that they are SEPTA police and said that he believes the incident occurred at the 15th Street Market-Frankford El stop.
Busch added that SEPTA is looking into whether there is surveillance footage of the incident, since the YouTube video does not tell the entire story. They never do.
UPDATED [6/18/2013 2:15 p.m.]: SEPTA’s Director of Media Relations Jerri Williams called with some more information. She says that the whole thing started as a disturbance at 15th and Chestnut streets that eventually made its way into the SEPTA station at 15th and Market. “The officers went down to break things up,” she says. “But a number of people did not want to cooperate.”
Williams says that four people were charged. Three of them were charged with disorderly conduct and released on the scene after receiving summary citations. The fourth one, 19-year-old Thomas Smith of Columbia, Maryland, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
As for SEPTA’s own surveillance video, Williams says that she’s seen it. “But because of the large crowd and the camera angle, it does not allow us to see what is actually going on,” she explains. “We are initiating an Internal Affairs investigation, which is standard in a case like this. And we’ve sent out letters to all four people cited, asking them if they would like to provide a statement.”
Smith was unable to be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, one witness to the incident had this to say via a Facebook message to me:
The one being punched in the video isn’t Tommy. Before that video started the kid that was tackled and punched walked into the subway without a shirt on. Cops across the platform told him to put a shirt on so he did. The cops then came over and started harassing them. Words were exchanged and the kids were basically getting irritated saying we haven’t done anything why are you messing with us and walked away.
Cops then said, “Where are you going? We aren’t done here and punched the kid that wasn’t wearing the shirt originally.” Then they tackled and punched him which you see in the video. Directly after that they pepper sprayed all of the kids and beat them, too.
One kid was put in the hospital with his eyes maced closed. They cuffed everyone and searched them and were irritated they had no drugs, weapons etc. and eventually let them all go except Tommy, who was arrested.