4 Philly officers from beating will be fired
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Four police officers who were caught on video beating three suspects in a drug-related triple shooting will be fired, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Monday.
The Philadelphia police commissioner, Charles H. Ramsey, announced disciplinary actions against eight officers on Monday with Mayor Michael Nutter.
Three other officers have been suspended, Commissioner Ramsey said at a news conference, and one officer has been demoted.
The disciplinary action follows a two-week investigation of the May 5 beating, filmed by a television news helicopter, in which the three men were dragged from their car and then kicked and punched by as many as 15 officers in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia.
The men are in custody on attempted murder, assault and firearms charges.
Commissioner Ramsey said he did not know why the officers acted as they did but he added that emotions were running high because Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski had been killed two days earlier in a robbery in the Port Richmond area of the city.
The 67-second video, which has been broadcast repeatedly on local and national television, is now being examined by District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who will decide whether to file criminal charges against the officers. The F.B.I. is also reviewing the tape, Commissioner Ramsey said.
Some of the officers used “indiscriminate force” that went beyond what is justified to make an arrest, he said. The officers kicked one man in the head and hit another in the head with an object while they lay on the ground.
“There are a group of officers whose actions were outside of department policy,” Commissioner Ramsey said. “We have to be better than some of what we showed on the fifth of May.”
D. Scott Perrine, a lawyer for one of the men, Pete Hopkins, 19, said the disciplinary action “falls far short” of the appropriate response, which he said should be criminal charges of aggravated assault for the officers involved.
“The only reason these people are not in handcuffs is because they are police officers,” Mr. Perrine said. “They behaved like a pack of wild animals.”
Two of the four officers being fired were new recruits on probation; the other two were more experienced officers.
The most senior officer on the scene, Sgt. Joseph Schiavone, was demoted to the rank of police officer and transferred to another district for failing to stop the beating; he had no contact with the suspects. Three other officers were suspended for 15, 10 and 5 days, respectively, and were transferred to other districts.
The four officers being fired are Patrick Gallagher, Patrick Whalen, Robert Donnelly and Vincent Strain. The three who were suspended are Sean Bascom, Demetrios Pittaoulis and Jonathon Czapor.
Eight other officers were found to have had “physical contact” with the men, within the limits allowed by police procedure. They were not disciplined but will undergo additional training in arrest procedures. Two more officers among the 18 on the scene had no contact with the men, Commissioner Ramsey said